Bob Costas recalls OJ Simpson’s attempt to call him during 1994 Bronco car chase, NBA Finals broadcast

Bob Costas recalls OJ Simpson’s attempt to call him during 1994 Bronco car chase, NBA Finals broadcast

طوبیٰ Tooba 3 months ago 0 3

The death of Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson has elicited mixed emotions from former fans, friends and colleagues. 

Veteran sportscaster Bob Costas is one of them. 

The former NBC Sports broadcaster joined “Today” on Friday, when he recalled the controversial life of Simpson, whose illustrious NFL career was overshadowed by the trial and eventual acquittal in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Bob Costas during broadcast

Bob Costas of NBC Sports talks before the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 16, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

“Well, it’s a complicated legacy to put it mildly,” Costas said.


“Yes, I knew him well. All of us at NBC Sports, and throughout NBC who interacted with him, liked him very much. What I’m about to say doesn’t mitigate the crime that he obviously committed, but at the time, he was the sort of guy who would remember the name of the kid who brought you the newspapers and coffee when you first got to the set in the morning on Sunday to cover football.”

Costas added, “He was accommodating to every fan that came up to him, he enjoyed his celebrity, he was very good company, he was a hail fellow well met, and then all of that – in our perception and in public perception – changed one night in June of 1994.”

Costas, like many, remembers very well the June 17, 1994 car chase involving Simpson and his teammate Al Cowlings, who drove the white Ford Bronco. However, unlike others, Costas was put in a “unique position” as the chase coincided with Game 5 of the NBA Finals. 

A Ford Bronco carrying OJ Simpson (hidden in rear seat) is reportedly driven by Simpson's former teammate Al Cowlings

A Ford Bronco carrying O.J. Simpson, hidden in the rear seat, was reportedly driven by Simpson’s former teammate Al Cowlings and chased by dozens of police cars during an hourslong pursuit along Los Angeles area freeways on June 17, 1994. (Sam Mircovich/Reuters)


“Every other network, every cable entity went live and carried it for hours upon hours. But we had not just a basketball game, an NBA Finals game, involving the No. 1 market in the country, not incidentally, the New York Nicks against the Houston Rockets. The series was tied 2-2, Game 5 was a close game.” 

“It was surreal, to put it mildly.” 

Costas also spoke in detail about the revelation made during a November 1994 prison visit with Simpson that during the car chase and coverage of the game, the former Buffalo Bills star made an attempt to call him. 

“Almost out of nowhere, Al Cowlings says ‘We tried to call you from the back of the Bronco.’ And I later learned that in fact they called the control room at the studio, but since I was at Madison Square Garden – in fact no one was there, the whole crew wasn’t there – but a tech answered the phone eventually and O.J. said ‘I need to speak to Bob Costas’ and the tech didn’t believe him. ‘Yeah right, who’s calling? O.J. Simpson, yeah right.’ Click – hung up the phone.” 

O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson

O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson were married for seven years before they divorced in 1992. Brown Simpson was murdered in 1994. (Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)


Costas said that when asked why he was called, Simpson said he “was being defamed by the media.”

“Not so much about the allegations, which were then fresh about the allegations of the crime, but that his overall character and the life he had led was being defamed,” he recalled.

“And somehow he thought that someone who was his friend, as well as his colleague, could perhaps, in effect, act as a character witness. And what I didn’t bother to tell him, since it was a moot point, was that if he had gotten through to me and if he had agreed to go on the air, then I would’ve had to ask him some very pointed questions.”

Simpson, 76, died Wednesday after battling prostate cancer. 

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