July 29, 1995 in Sports

O.J. Changed The Rules For Moon

Larry Stewart Los Angeles Times
 

A year or so ago, Warren Moon’s arrest for spousal abuse might have been only a blip, and then forgotten about.

But the Moon story has been big news in the Houston area, where he lives during the off-season, and in Minnesota, where he is employed by the Vikings.

Turner Sports, Moon’s secondary employer, which has big plans for him, didn’t take the news lightly.

Harvey Schiller, president of Turner Sports, said: “Warren knows what needs to be done, and now he has to do it.” Schiller was referring to counseling.

Schiller, in a private phone conversation with Moon, was tougher. He was supportive but also told him the incident was being taken seriously.

Turner Sports has gone out of its way to get Moon started in broadcasting. First, he got a chance to work as a reporter during the NBA playoffs. This fall, he will have the opportunity to join TNT’s Sunday night NFL pregame and postgame show even though he’s still playing.

Moon, probably entering his last season, will appear via satellite. He is getting red-carpet treatment while entering broadcasting. No network has ever done anything quite like this for an active player.

It’s now up to Moon to show that he is worthy, that his act of hitting his wife, choking her and chasing her in his car at high speed was an aberration and that nothing like it will happen again. If it does, his broadcasting career should be finished.

Add Moon

Maybe history does teach us something. When NBC hired another popular football player, O.J. Simpson, to replace Ahmad Rashad on its NFL pregame show in 1989, Simpson’s arrest for spousal abuse a few months earlier, after a New Year’s party at his home, was a non-issue.

The arrest didn’t even make the papers until a month later, and that May, Simpson, after pleading no contest, was given two years’ probation, told to donate $500 to an organization for battered women and ordered to undergo counseling.

Meanwhile, everyone at NBC greeted Simpson with open arms. At a network news conference in July that included Simpson, the arrest wasn’t brought up.

However, after the news conference, this reporter pulled Simpson aside to ask him about it. Simpson called it a “bum rap” and said it never would have happened if they hadn’t been drinking.”

About a week after reporting Simpson’s comments, this reporter encountered Simpson and his wife, Nicole, at a Cedars-Sinai Hospital benefit.

“Hey, Nicole, this is the guy who reminded the public about our little spat on New Year’s,” Simpson said with a laugh. Nicole was not laughing.

Negro Leagues tribute

A documentary on the Negro Leagues, “Kings of the Hill: Baseball’s Forgotten Men,” will be shown on NBC Sunday at 1 p.m. (PDT).


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