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O.J. Simpson still welcome at Pro Football Hall of Fame

By
The Sports Xchange
O.J. Simpson reacts after learning he was granted parole at Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada. Pool photo by Jason Bean/UPI
O.J. Simpson reacts after learning he was granted parole at Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada. Pool photo by Jason Bean/UPI | License Photo

Convicted felon O.J. Simpson, who was granted parole by the Nevada Board of Prisons this week and eligible for release Oct. 1, will remain on the invitation list to attend the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies.

Asked whether Simpson will be welcome after he is released from prison, Hall of Fame officials told ESPN's Jeff Legwold: "All Hall of Famers are invited to attend the annual enshrinement."

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Simpson, 70, was unanimously granted parole on Thursday in Lovelock, Nev., after serving almost nine years of a 33-year sentence for his 2008 conviction on armed robbery charges.

Simpson is a Hall of Fame running back who was enshrined in 1985. He would be eligible to attend the annual enshrinement weekend once any parole restrictions related to travel are lifted.

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The Hall of Fame's bylaws stipulate that only a player's on-field achievements in football are considered as the criteria for enshrinement, thus Simpson's bust remains on display in Canton, Ohio. Simpson has not attended a Hall of Fame ceremony since his own enshrinement in 1985.

Simpson rushed for 11,236 yards in an 11-year NFL career and was the first running back in league history to top 2,000 rushing yards in a season with 2,003 yards in 1973 for the Buffalo Bills. He is the only player to rush for 2,000 yards in a 14-game season.

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Simpson was convicted in 2008 of an armed robbery involving two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room. He served the minimum sentence at the Lovelock Correctional Center, about 90 miles northeast of Reno, Nev.

In 1995, Simpson was acquitted in the killings of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

Connie Bisbee, chairman of the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners, referenced the 1995 trial during Thursday's hearing, saying the board had received hundreds of letter of support and opposition regarding Simpson's release. She specifically noted that case was not relevant to Thursday's hearing and would not be considered when determining whether Simpson would be paroled because he had been acquitted.

Simpson was a highly popular figure prior to the brutal knife-slashing killings in 1994 but he was infamous after the verdicts despite being found not guilty.

Simpson was a college football star at USC and was perhaps the top running back in the NFL in the 1970s while starring for the Bills.

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