I guess it's just time — time to tell the story of one unbelievable night more than 30 years ago, when a fresh-faced and wide-eyed teenager sat in the back of a limousine with one of the most beloved athletes on the planet.
Famous wasn't yet infamous.
Legend wasn't yet pariah.
I've thought a lot about that night through the decades, but just couldn't bring myself to tell people about it. Sure, I've shared it with a few close friends over that time, but never a wider audience. It was just too awkward — too embarrassing.
I mean, think about it. How do you tell people you rode in a limo with one of the greatest football players ever who'd later become an accused murderer? How do you tell people you "hung" with O.J Simpson?
Sounds crazy, right? But it's true.
And it was incredible.
I was only 16.
It was Oct. 7, 1985 in the Nation's Capital and Monday Night Football was in town. I lived in nearby Maryland.
It was a big deal.
The Washington Redskins were playing host to the then St. Louis Cardinals and O.J., along with Frank Gifford would call the game for ABC along with, I think, Joe Namath.
My friend, Michael had invited me to the game. His family had season tickets at the time and I was lucky to get a look.
There was only one issue.
My parents wouldn't let me drive to the game and Michael didn't even have his driver's license yet. I'd only had mine for a few months, if that, and there was no way in hell Mom and Dad were letting me drive to RFK at that time of night, on a school night, no less.
We needed a ride.
Luckily, a couple of friends, a few years older and self-proclaimed autograph hounds, were driving to DC that night anyway, hoping to meet the MNF legends and get some signatures. Michael and I would tag along and then they'd drop us at the game. Seemed like a good plan. I can't even remember how we were supposed to get home. Imagine that happening today.
Those friends, Ralph and Chuck had perfected the art of the autograph. They'd drive all over town, no matter the event, and "bag" some of the greatest athletes ever. Bird, Magic, Dr. J, EVERYONE!
Their stories were amazing. I was captivated.
Somehow these guys knew where to be and when — the hotels that the teams, players and superstars would stay in. Remember, this was pre-9/11, when security wasn't nearly as tight as it is now. You could literally wait for your favorite athlete in the lobby of a hotel for hours and not get shooed away by the cops. It was a moment in time that no longer exists and never will again.