Former Manager Recalls Final Call With ‘Extremely Sick’ O.J. Simpson

K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A one-time member of O.J. Simpson’s inner circle says he largely saw the disgraced football great as a liar and a cheat, but still carved out time to bid a final farewell to him before he succumbed to prostate cancer.

“We just spoke, like, a month ago, and basically said our goodbyes,” Simpson’s former manager Norman Pardo told The Daily Beast. “Because I knew he was extremely sick, and we didn’t want to leave any hard feelings.”

People “don’t really know what O.J. was like to be around,” Pardo went on.

“He wasn’t the best guy in the world, not the nicest guy in the world… not the most truthful guy in the world,” Pardo said. “But he wasn’t the meanest guy in the world, either.”

Simpson died Wednesday night in Las Vegas, where he had been living for the past several years. He was 76.

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“On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer,” Simpson’s family said in a statement issued Thursday. “He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace.”

Pardo first met Simpson in 1999, four years after the Hall of Fame running back was acquitted on charges that he fatally stabbed his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman, in a fit of jealous rage. Pardo became Simpson’s manager and one of his closest confidants, arranging lucrative public appearances for him across the U.S. up until shortly before “The Juice” was arrested in 2007 for stealing hundreds of his own sports memorabilia pieces from a dealer, at gunpoint.

After Simpson was convicted and sentenced to nine years in a Nevada state prison, Pardo said the two had a falling out while his friend was behind bars. The spat centered on a novel theory Pardo said he had developed about the infamous double murder and others he believed were involved, drawing Simpson’s ire because “he found out I knew too much.”

“That caused us a big rift, and he didn’t want to speak to me anymore,” Pardo went on. “He said, ‘I don’t want to know you anymore.’”

Simpson was released in 2017 at the age of 70; two years later, Pardo released a film titled Who Killed Nicole? and set up a website with what he said was evidence proving Simpson was at the scene of the crime but did not carry out the gruesome double murder. The two didn’t speak again until March 2024, once Pardo learned Simpson was dying, and decided to reach out and set things right.

“It was a regular phone call, just like nothing had ever happened,” Pardo explained. “We just wanted to forget about the past and start over a little bit, and [confirm] we were still buddies.”

Simpson, according to Pardo, “was very greedy.”

“It was always, ‘Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine,’” Pardo said. “For example, when we were on tour, if we got, say, $1,000 for showing up somewhere—though it usually was a lot more than that—he wanted it all, and didn’t want to give any to anyone else because he felt the world owed him something. So, security didn’t get their money, a lot of people didn’t get money, because he was greedy… I paid for everything, he wouldn’t pay for anything. The only reason I put him on tour is because he called me and said, ‘My kids need money for college.’ So I’d go find him something to do. He got what he wanted, which was the money, and so I guess it was a win-win.

Eventually, Simpson signed with a different promoter who Simpson thought could negotiate fatter deals, but wound up booking Simpson at “all the same places” as Pardo, he said. Pardo was already out of Simpson’s life when he was nabbed for the Vegas heist, but claims Simpson contacted him for help because he had long been the go-to cleanup man for his messes.

“He called me and said, ‘Norm, I think I messed up real bad,’” Pardo recalled. “And this time, I couldn’t get him out of the mess. He was all over the TV. I said, ‘I can’t do anything for you this time.’”

Pardo “knew he was buried, when he was up on that [case],” he said. “He was done.”

Jeffrey Felix, a former prison guard at Nevada’s Lovelock Correctional Center who became close with Simpson during his incarceration, once said Simpson was like a “brother” to him.

Reached by phone on Thursday, Felix told The Daily Beast that news of Simpson’s death “upset” him.

“I mean, I liked O.J. and I got along with him really well,” Felix said. “He was always good to me. He respected me. I respected him. And I mean, we had a lot of good times, you know, good conversation. I mean, I kind of feel bad. He kind of died a little early. I thought he’d live into his 80s.”

Felix insisted Simpson “just got caught up in some jealousy issues with his ex-wife, and you know how that can go.”

Felix described one of the “funniest” interactions the two had at Lovelock, after a small, rusty gardeners’ knife was found on Simpson’s property as his former home was being torn down in 2016. (It was later deemed unrelated to the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.)

“I asked O.J. about the knife and he said one of his best quotes ever: ‘If the knife is rusted, I can’t be busted,’” Felix recounted.

Felix—who later wrote a book about Simpson, called Guarding the Juice—said he used to “badger” Simpson about rumors that he was in fact Khloe Kardashian’s biological father, which he claimed got “under his skin.” He also needled O.J. about being the real culprit for the killings of Brown Simpson and Goldman, which made him “mad at me for a little while.” And when Felix was having troubles with his wife, he said Simpson tried to counsel him.

“And I told him, ‘Hey, with all due respect, I can’t take your marital advice seriously.’”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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