O.J. Simpson compared himself in a recent television interview to Jesus and Moses and Job, and declared that he was merely speaking hypothetically when he told Esquire magazine that if he had killed his former wife, he would have done it "because I loved her very much."
In an interview Thursday with the sports cable channel ESPN, Simpson said he made the comment hypothetically "as part of a scenario of things."
It has since been taken out of context, he said. "But of course they took this one thing out of the middle of there and made it as if it was an independent statement."
In an interview with host Chris Myers on the cable channel's "Up Close" show, Simpson emphatically denied that he made what some have interpreted as an oblique confession when he told Esquire: "Let's say I committed this crime. Even if I did do this, it would have to have been because I loved her very much, right?"
The comment is included in a 10-page interview in the magazine's February issue.
Simpson said Thursday he was "certainly not reexamining my position" when he spoke to Esquire. He said he has made the statement many times when discussing theories in the case.
He added: "I think in America, normally when people use 'if,' you know it's a hypothetical. You don't say, 'This is a hypothetical.' We preface things with 'if.' That's what I said."
Simpson sparred with Myers several times during the interview, which lasted less than an hour. "Hold it, let me finish here," Simpson said at one point. At another, he said: "You guys are full of beans."
During a commercial break, however, Simpson seemed to be relishing the give and take.
According to an audiotape of the session, obtained by The Times from ESPN, Simpson told Myers: "I like this kind of stuff," adding, "The only way I can get my point across to people is to have this type of interchange. Otherwise they're going to say you were soft on me and gave me softball questions and stuff."
In his on-air comments, Simpson repeated his oft-stated denial that he killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in 1994.
In October 1995, he was acquitted of murder. Last year, though, jurors in a civil wrongful death trial found him liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages.
"I feel I got screwed big-time in this case," Simpson told Myers.
Asked if he had any moral obligation to pay, Simpson responded: "I don't feel I have a moral obligation to pay because morally I've done nothing wrong."
Even so, Myers noted, Simpson is widely considered responsible for the killings.
"You know," Simpson said, "you wish it wasn't such.
"I felt that I've had one person to answer to originally, I mean eventually, my lord and savior. And since I know inside--that's, that's the only thing that really matters. And I've looked throughout history. And when I read the Bible, from Moses to Jesus to whoever you want to name, Job, they all went through similar things.
"And I think that's what the Bible was, for me--an example. It was like a map that says, 'Things like this can happen in your life and you can overcome it.' I think I've overcome it by getting so much of the hate out of me. And I had a lot of hate in me and anger in me."
"But," Myers retorted, "there's a hate in a lot of people toward you."
"That's their problem," Simpson said.