2K Football Game Has O.J. Simpson - and a Knife

July 20, 2007 -
2K Sports, owned by Take Two Interactive, has just shipped All-Pro Football 2K8, and already there's a controversy.

The Street.com reports that the game, which lacks an NFL license but makes up for it by using the likenesses of retired pro players, also features O.J. Simpson, who many believe committed the grisly slashing murder of his wife and a man named Ronald Goldman in 1994.

The Street.com's Priya Ganapati, who has covered Take Two frequently, writes:
A game trailer on the Game Trailers Web site shows Simpson game highlights as his team, "The Assassins," moves down the field. Toward the end of the clip, Simpson scores a touchdown, prompting a large hooded mascot (above) above the scoreboard to make stabbing motions with a large knife...

2K Sports' decision clearly reflects a lack of sensitivity and leaves the company open to accusations of bad taste, but, at its worst, it suggests an attempt to deliberately offend and use Simpson's past to profit and promote a video game that many parents would likely buy as a normal sports-game purchase.

Ganapti writes that a Take Two spokesman forwared a statement saying the mascot's stabbing motion is "not specifically associated with O.J. Simpson, and the game does not promote any such connection.

GP: Although we hadn't taken notice of O.J.'s inclusion on the roster, at least one website did, about 10 weeks back. PastaPadre now seems prescient:
OJ Simpson being in APF 2K8 is unlikely to keep anyone from specifically purchasing it... I would not be surprised however if the topic is brought up sometime heading up to release. The question is whether 2K is actually seeking out the negative press this could present as a way to get the game some attention.

PP also seems to want to blame GameTrailers for a Michael Vick-like APF2K8 trailer.



[...] For those just catching up, we explained this Assassins connection away weeks ago when the controvery first broke. Simpson can be placed on any team, GameTrailers (either for yucks or accidentally) made a video of Simpson on a team called The Assassins. At the time 2K Sports clearly stated that they had nothing to do with the video and it was not created by their marketing or publicity department. Some people still got all uppity about it. Simpson has been ordered by the court to turn over copies of his Take-Two contract and any related documents. [...]

Yes, he was found innocent. In many ways, I despair at the fact OJ keeps pointing at himself in order to complain about his treatment, kinda reminds me of someone else in that respect, not wanting to sound callous, but if he'd kept his head down and his mouth shut then this would all have blown over long ago, but instead he keeps publicising his role and demonising himself by releasing books or attending talk-shows on the subject.

Wasn't O.J. Innocent?

What's next? Mike Vick being on a team called the Dogpound?

Or the Barbarians...BARBARIC!

@ BearDogg-X

I have little doubt he'll be pulled. If I'm wrong I'll eat crow, but the WWE severed ties so quickly with the Benoit issue and discontinued all merchandise relating to him in a matter of a couple days. Maybe there'll be a hot coffee version of Benoit hidden somewhere in the coding at best, but I don't see it possible that he'll be a playable character, considering WWE's addressing of the matter.

[...] Controversy over OJ Simpson in All Pro Football 2K8 GamePolitics.com

As I understand it, Mascots are assigned to Teams in the US? If that's the case, then surely the Assassins mascot will make that stabbing motion regardless of who scores the point?

To be honest, most game trailers are taken from a huge collection of catured video footage, and are chosen for how 'effective' they look, not how 'accurately' they define the gameplay, there's every possiblity that the video was put together by someone who had no idea who was who on the pitch, but just used the scenes that made the game look interesting and fun.

From my understanding (and correct me if I'm wrong) players are drafted to teams somewhat arbitrarily, and as such, Simpson would not be committed to playing for that particular team. So that part of the story seems coincidental.

Though I do take issue with Simpson appearing in the game at all.

You take issue with Simpson?

Screw that; this is awesome; I'm gonna be the assassins and hire every football star ever accused of a crime!

You could do that in Madden just by playing as the Bengals...


Why take issue with that? He played NFL football, and was pretty popular; therefore including him in a game using the likenesses of other retired NFL players makes perfect sense. What he did or did not do after that has nothing to do with this game.

The only thing at all offensive I see about this is that some idiot purposefully showed O. J. on this particular team, with that particular mascot, for the sole purpose of causing a stir. That is what riles me, not the fact that he's in the game.

They're named the Assassins. The mascot is an Assassin. I find no more issue with this than an archetypal pirate mascot having a cutlass.

great.... now ever madden game that has a spike touchdown or any football game people will think "omg his stabbing someone"

This doesn't look like a deliberate act at all. Sure, they have his likeness in the game, but there are lots of retired players there. He wasn't assigned to this team by the developers since you can draft them to any team you want, and the mascot stabbing the knife is just the team mascot. This is no different then when somebody make a Mortal Kombat character that looked like Jack Thompson just to get people fired up. Nothing to see here, move along.

What wrong with putting OJ Simpson, hes a famous Football star so he should given credit. As for murdering his wife and her partner well thats a different story.
Well whatever, didn't Jeffery Archer write (in what i call High detail) all the murders his inmates committed in his books? Why wasn't that critisised?

I thought it was pretty funny. Some people need to lighten up. (Thestreet.com)

I think this is more of a case of "We can do this, then we can do this, and putting them together we can imply this". As opposed to having the OJ Simpson player himself able to do that move, which would be a more controversial link. Instead, it's a move associated with a Team, which may or may not have OJ Simpson on it, right?

A similar controversy would be "I made a Jack Thompson wrestler in a Create-A-Wrestler design". It's not really Jack Thompson. It's throwing together pieces and saying "Hey! That LOOKS LIKE Jack Thompson!", as opposed to having a ready made character named Jack Thompson.

NW2K Software


Simpson was a great football player, but I personally feel his legal troubles trump his on-field legacy. I'm morally uncomfortable with the idea of glorifying that kind of personality. I don't expect Chris Benoit to be a playable legend in any upcoming WWE games for the same reason.

You (and already others) have stated that these two issues should be seperated. That's fine, and I respect the opinion. I'm just not personally comfortable with it. ...But not to the point that I would protest or boycott the game. I don't think we should erase our history, but omitting him from the game wouldn't have been that big of a deal in my opinion.

I would almost agree with Dorkmaster Flek that it was not intentional since you draft players to any team, but the trailer in question was produced and released by Take Two themselves.

Since the game is not yet released, this was not generated by some random mischievous player.

And I watched the trailer, I would say it was not in poor taste. Not any more poor taste than a comedian profiting from an OJ joke, or a Michael Jackson molestation joke, or a Vick dog fighting joke. Video games are under way too much scrutiny lately. Back off people.

@ Todd:

The game has been released and has been available for a few days now. Not saying the trailer isn't 2K's, just clarifying.


So T2's just taking "If I did it" a little too literally? ;)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Brokenscope hit the nail on the head - nothing says free advertising like riling up the easily-offended denizens of the internet, prompting the less easily-offended to ridicule them, causing a big uproar of debate over something that isn't even remotely worth it. We've seen this happen dozens of times before, no one should be surprised by now.

Looks like they just want attention. Maybe the game sucks and this is the only way they can get people to buy it.

ESRB re-rating the game to AO in 3-2-1

I am I the only one that thinks its funny?

This is Take-Two here we're talking about. They're aggressively pursuiting a policy of terrorizing politicians.

Speaking of terrorizing, they need to be detained.

Do I ever love articles written by journalists who have no f***ing clue about what they're talking about.

This one by Priya Ganapati is a prime example.

Alright, its 100% official. 1/4 of the US Population is retarded. Especially after reading that Thestreet.com article.

That woman had no idea what she was talking about. And besides, why the hell should ANYONE take offense to that other then the FAMILIES of the victims? Who the hell do people think they are saying "Oh, its has OJ in it and he MIGHT have killed people that I have never met in my life, nor do I think about in my daily routines. I'm never haunted by the situation like the people who know the victims. But I'm offended by it anyways".

Grow up people.

And thats besides the point that O.J. isn't even assigned to that team! You can make your OWN teams! Hell, thats what I'm going to do...I'm going to make the Sin-cinati Serial Killers. It will have O.J. and create-a-player Dahmer, Gacey, Ramierez, Speck, Josef Mengele, and whomever else I can think of.

[...] [Via GamePolitics] [...]

It's always humorous when people who don't understand an issue and personally attack those who disagree with them use the "grow up" argument. Very Jack Thompson like.

Well sorry to say it but its true.

Why, may I ask, are you offended by it? Did you know the victims? If not, then why do you care if an EXCUSED killer who was found NOT GUILTY appears in a video game? Especially since he was a great football player and deserves to be in this game?

If you want to take offense, great, good for you, have your opinion. But I personally think its stupid. Unless you knew the families or the victims that were effected by that tragic event, then you should have no say on the situation. Because honestly, how the hell can you be offended by this?

[...] [Via GamePolitics] [...]

Well, how's this ganna help him find the real killers?

I mean, durring christmas, do you sit there and say "man, I wish Nicole Brown was alive and eating with her family"?

Or were the victims of this crime on your mind before this was released? Or is it only now, after watching this video, do you have a problem with it? If its the latter, then yes, my point stands. Its stupid and you should grow up. Because the only reason WHY your offended by is, is because you CAN be offended by it.

And bringing crap like this up only brings back the haunting memories of those times back to the family members, the TRUE people who would/could be offended.

Now, 13 years later, some guy puts up a video of a video game with O.J. on it and people bring it to the lime light. Why? I have no clue...because they can. Or because they have found a way to profit off of it (like thestreet.com). Other then that, bringing this up does NOTHING but cause people to be "offended" when they REALLY aren't offended. And causes further pain to the families.

THAT is why I think its stupid and people should Grow up. If that makes me Jack Thompson, fine, so be it. But I stick by my words.

How many people believe O.J. might have been innocent? 1/4 of the country perhaps?

I don't take personal offense to this. If you read anything that I typed I consider it a minor deal. You're calling people names for having a different opinion than you. Very mature.

This is an issue because O.J. Simpson is getting publicity and likely money off of this project when he doesn't deserve to be in the spotlight anymore. Sure, he's a brutal killer who has attempted to capitalize off his own infamy, but he was a good football player! That's what matters! Seems a little backwards...

I try to show respect for people I disagree with because this is a simple moral issue and there is ultimately no point in arguing, but you are not a respectable person if you are going to try and dictate how others should think with childish name calling.

...Sorry for the double post but I just realized something. I really don't care enough to potentially continue arguing over this. I've pulled myself into an argument based on a moral disagreement so minute almost to the point of insignificance that dragging this out any further is actually silly. I still wouldn't have added O.J. Simpson to the game myself, but that's it. If anyone disagrees, fine. I don't care.

I actually thought this was funny. Having OJ play for a team called the Assassins straddles the line of good taste just enough so that both sides will generate publicity. You don't put him in the trailer, you have just another football game (at first glance). Put him in waving a bloody knife after he scores a touchdown, and you've gone too far in the other direction. A good move, I think, by Take2 to hype up what I think will ultimately be just an average sports game.

Critics...wow. Seriously? I would be upset if they didn't put OJ on the game. It's supposed to be all the pro football players from the past (not sure how far it goes though) so why the hell not?

And the whole thing with the assassin thing is kinda funny. Sure its coincidental, but given the fact that EA has the rights over the NFL, 2k had to find another way to get football teams out there and mascots to support, right?

I think this is the funniest fucking thing I've seen in a while. You know what? While I believe OJ did do it, like other say he was a football player and a well known one at that. They'd be stupid not to. As for the whole "Assassins" and their mascot thing goes, is it in bad taste? Maybe. But this isn't the first sort of "joke" made about OJ killing his wife, no one complained about comedian tells jokes about it, so why should anyone care about this? People are just over sensitive anymore, and it's just tiresome. Get a fucking sense of humor people or shut up.

Is this what we're coming to? Petty squandering over team mascots in a videogame? How is this even news? My god people need to get over themselves. Entitlement to an absence of humor is simply too far.

Are there even any kids who are really old enough to even remember this, whose parents would be buying the game for them anyways (I mean 13 years is a long time)?? You would figure most of the people who remember the OJ thing are old enough to decide whether or not to buy the game themselves, and if they found it that offensive or insensitive then they wouldn't buy it. It probably would have been a better idea to put him on another team though - just to avoid the appearance of even remotely relating the two...

Didn't they do similar stuff in Duke Nukem 3d?

That was what.... almost a decade ago and no one cared

Two words:

Don't Care

Personally, I think even if 2k intentionally forced OJ to be on that team (Which I'm not saying is the case) they wouldn't be any worse than OJ for cashing in on the controversy with his book... So what if I did it... Hmph.

Even if he didn't kill those people, that is still in bad taste. That would be like... Alfred Packer writing a book called "So what if I ate them?" Instead he chose to live out his undeserved freedom as a rancher in obscurity, until the FDA almost named a restaurant after him, unaware of his cannibalistic past. I'm pretty sure I just lost my point somewhere in the mazed corridors of that paragraph, so I'll just drop it and go to sleep.

@ carbonatedgravy

"I don’t expect Chris Benoit to be a playable legend in any upcoming WWE games for the same reason."

Makes you wonder if THQ has enough time to pull Benoit out of Smackdown vs. Raw 2008.
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