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Friday, September 21, 2007

The Hammer Speaks....

Goin' back to Cali in the morning, but wanted to share this one post for the weekend...

Earlier in the week I had a post on colossal dumbass and keystone-cop caper cohort O.J. Simpson. I remarked on how different he was from the other actor/football greats of the time. I didn't know how very right I was....

This was forwarded to me by Eric Easter who works at Ebony/Jet, and it's a very interesting interview/perspective from Fred Williamson aka "The Hammer". Who woulda thunk Black Caesar was so philosophical?

What Does The Hammer Think?
First Up: The Juice Friday, September 21, 2007

Fred Williamson has opinions about a lot of things, but most tough guys play it close to the vest. Fortunately for us he's a very generous guy. Introducing the first of what will become a regular sit down with The Hammer.

So what’s your feeling on OJ’s latest situation?
The Juice has a nickname now: Teflon Simpson, because nothing sticks.

Some people are saying he was set up? Do you think he was?
It’s no doubt that he was set up but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he went in and did something he was not supposed to do. Being set up has nothing to do with the crime. The crime was very simple: he went in, took some property that he said was his. But, the way to do that is to call the police, say “that’s mine” and sort it out from there. Anytime you go into a place and take something out, you are a thief. But, the charges that are being brought against him will be dropped one at a time, I’m sure. He’ll probably be convicted of a misdemeanor, a slap on the wrist, a fine.

Does OJ think he’s above the law?
I play a lot of golf – three, four times a day. Great character analysis comes out on the golf course. The way a man reacts on the course is a true measure of his character. OJ he’s a golf club thrower, he kicks the green, he makes holes in the green. The guy is not in control of himself. Golf brings out this quality in people. The way a guy handles himself, handles adversity on the golf course is the way that man is in life. It’s a true measure – works every time. The most obnoxious human being on the golf course is the man who throws his clubs, kicks the ground. There’s no worse swing than Charles Barkley’s, we all know that. And when he misses a shot, he laughs. It’s funny to him. OJ goes berserk. It’s quite clear he is a man not in control of himself.

What happens when a career is over?
What about the need for visibility and OJ’s need to always be the center of attention?It’s a major problem for any athlete who has been high profile to suddenly become a commoner. Luckily, I was able to make a transition from being a star on the football field to being a success in the movie industry. They have a psychological program now, just came about in the last five years, to help players who have difficulty merging into society as Joe Commoner. You’re always only as good as the last touchdown you scored or the last field goal you made. America is always looking for the next superstar to come up, to break the record. It’s a very difficult transition for a lot of people to make.OJ did a couple of movies, as most superstars will do when they retire to take advantage of their popularity, but that’s really all there is. If that doesn’t go well, then they’re easily and quickly forgotten. And that’s OJ’s problem – he doesn’t want to ever be in that situation where people will say “What ever happened to…” That’s a very difficult situation to overcome where you’ve been a superstar and then you walk around in a hotel lobby and nobody recognizes you. That’s something that all superstars and all ex-athletes fight.

How does that impact personal relationships?
It all depends on whether or not you are trying to hide out or trying to accomplish something and don’t get recognized. I mean I walk through the airport and get called Jim Brown and Richard Roundtree all the time, and I know I don’t look like either one of those guys. Jim Brown’s fat and bald-headed and Richard Roundtree is ugly. When I get called that I laugh and joke and tell them I’m the good-looking one, I’m The Hammer, and they say, oh yea, yea, yea.

If you could give Juice one bit of advice about how to handle himself now, what would it be?
Well, he needed that advice from me about a month ago. But, it would be ‘go to Mexico. Go to Spain. Lay low somewhere for two years so we don’t hear about you'. People will forget. People would forget about OJ and let OJ come back into society and do something that is positive, but he has to stay out of the limelight. And that’s his problem: he has to stay in the limelight so people will never say “What happened to OJ?” My advice to him is to leave the country. Go away.

Do you think he enjoys this pariah status? Is it something he’s grasped onto now? That being hated is his claim to fame?
Look at the expressions on OJ’s face as he walks with his hands cuffed behind him, as he walks into the courtroom. There’s no sadness. There is no remorse. The guy always has a smile and a smirk on his face. He’s very smart. After being acquitted of his other situation, he knows how far to go.He’s never been prosecuted for any of the things he’s done – from the road rage to the 911 calls. He knows where the edge is and he never steps over. I guarantee you that OJ did not know that those goons he brought into that hotel room had guns; guarantee that it was never his intention for anybody to come in there and do gangster stuff. He brought guys in there that were big enough and ugly enough to scare most anybody. You don’t need guns. You already outnumber everybody in the room.

So you think it just went horribly wrong.
Went horribly wrong because of the guns. Take the guns out and you don’t really have any serious crimes against OJ. His ranting and raving and all that? There’s no crime. The fact that he went in to take some memorabilia that he had signed is kind of ridiculous because all he has to do is go out and get some more jerseys and sign them again. For him to go in to do this was a calculated publicity stunt. Its OJ’s name. all he has to do is go into the room next door and say ‘this is the real stuff. That stuff over there is phony stuff'. So you gotta know that he wanted a little publicity, a little something that went in his favor – ‘my stuff was stolen’. The guns put it on a whole other level.

Do you think that he’s being tried for this crime, or for his acquittal over Ron & Nicole?
Its gonna really be difficult to find a jury that would not think he got away with something the first time and now we have a chance to vindicate that situation.

Who would be a jury of his peers?
I would say women. Women are more forgiving. Women are more understanding. When you go to these shows and you see OJ or see him walking through the airport, he is surrounded by women. Women want his autograph. Women are infatuated by this guy, more so than guys. If this jury was made up more of women, he’d have a much better chance of being acquitted.

Why is that? What still attracts people to him?
He’s still a football icon. But now, he’s someone who’s dangerous. There’s a sense of danger about OJ, so if you get something that has OJ Simpson’s name on it, years from now they’ll be saying ‘here’s the guy who got away with murder.' And the guy who did this, it becomes a double sense of something that’s valuable. From football player to dangerous man; it all adds to the credibility of owning something that was signed by OJ.

Same for the golf course?
That he still has buddies who want to play with him?He was the best man at somebody’s wedding! This guy could have found a bunch of people other than OJ, but for him, for life, when somebody mentions OJs name he’s going to say ‘Yeah, he was best man at my wedding.’ So this guy has something that he can talk about ‘til the day he dies.

How do you determine who are the genuine people in your life?
That’s impossible to do. As with everything in life, a friend is a friend only when you need them. That’s when true friendship shows itself. Only when you need somebody and they’re there, do they become classified as a friend. Until then, they’re acquaintances. If you’re an athlete you gotta assume that everybody wants a piece of you for some particular reason, either financially or socially. That’s just the way it is.

Do you think OJ has true friends?
I think he has a whole bunch of hanger-oners who want to say ‘I know OJ. I played golf with OJ. I had a drink with OJ. I’ve been to OJ’s house. OJ bumped into me at the airport. OJ stepped on my foot coming out of a building’. Everybody wants a piece of OJ.

If there was some mandatory training for dealing with life outside of that arena, what would it look like?
It’s impossible, because we’re public figures. People see us and they feel they own us. There is no sense of privacy. If I’m sitting somewhere in a restaurant, people will come up and grab me by the arm and say 'I don’t mean to disturb you,' -- holding my arm the whole time while I'm trying to eat a sandwich -- 'but just sign this.' And if you don’t sign it, they walk away cursing at you. If you say to them, ‘but sir, I was just about to eat this sandwich. Can you give me five minutes?’ If you say that to them: Come back in five minutes? You have annoyed them, you have pissed them off and they walk away talking about you like a dog. It’s just something we have to deal with everyday. If people pay money to see you, and they’ve seen you in a public venue, they feel like they have a relationship with you. Even though you don’t know who they are, you have no relationship with them, they feel like they have this relationship with you, so they don’t mind invading your privacy. It’s how you deal with it that affects who you are and affects the way in which they respect you.


justjudith said...

very interesting post. it's a crack up how he calls other people ugly so frequently. but he has an interesting perspective.

Invisible Woman said...

I thought is was a good read...

Duane Francis said...

Invisible Lady, I love this. You just keep providing that great information on Black Film. Great Stuff

Invisible Woman said...

Thank you rootzpoet!