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By David Schoenfield
Page 2 Staff
The O.J. Simpson murder trial took 133 days to conduct, produced 150 witnesses and cost $15 million to try.
The jury took three hours to deliberate the case.
When the verdict was announced at 10 a.m. PT on October 3, 1995, 91 percent of all viewers watching television were tuned into O.J.
If the Kobe Bryant sexual assault ever gets to trial, it won't match O.J. for "Trial of the Century" status. But it should crack the top 10 sports trials of all time:
1. O.J. Simpson murder trial
The verdict: Not guilty
The ramifications: The trial symbolized America's polarization of racial issues - in a 1995 Gallup-CNN/USA Today Poll over half of whites thought the Simpson verdict was incorrect, while most blacks (73 %) thought the outcome was accurate. Simpson did later lose a civil trial (which relies only on a preponderance of the evidence) and was ordered to pay $8.5 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.
Bonus: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."
2. Pittsburgh drug trials
The verdict: Strong went to jail and baseball had a PR disaster with innuendo of rampant cocaine use that took place in the early '80s and cocaine sales taking place in the Pirates' clubhouse.
The ramifications: Several players were suspended for 60 days and some were fined 10 percent of their base salary. Parker, a borderline Hall of Famer, may have cost himself any chance at a Cooperstown plaque. Rod Scurry, a Pirates pitcher who testified in the case, would later die of a cocaine-related death at 36.
Bonus: The Pirate Parrot was implicated for buying cocaine and introducing players to Strong.
3. NFL vs. USFL
The trial: In the summer of 1986, the USFL made its case before a federal jury in New York that the NFL had conspired to monopolize professional football.
The verdict: The USFL won … but was awarded just $1 in damages by the jury (trebled to $3 in accordance with antitrust law).
The ramifications: The USFL folded, appeals failed, the check was never cashed and the NFL monopoly rolled on.
Bonus: The NFL was forced to pay $5.5 million in attorney fees (apparently making the lawyers big winners as well).
4. The Black Sox
The trial: In September 1920, Jackson and Eddie Cicotte signed confessions before a grand jury saying they had taken money to throw the World Series (you can read Jackson's confession here), but once the trial began in June of 1921 (the players had been suspended by then by White Sox owner Charles Comiskey), shocking news was revealed: the signed confessions had been stolen! Without the confessions, and a judge who told the jury that a guilty verdict must find the players conspired "to defraud the public and others, and not merely throw ballgames," the jury only needed two hours to deliberate.
The verdict: Not guilty!
The ramifications: But Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis quickly banned the players for life anyway.
Bonus: "Say it ain't so, Joe. Say it ain't so."
"Yes kid, I'm afraid it is."
The charge: Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson accused of raping a beauty pageant contestant.
The trial: Tyson's defense team contends the victim, Desiree Washington, is upset that she was used for a one-night stand. The prosecution goes after Tyson's character and his history of violence against women.
The verdict: Guilty of one count of rape and two counts of deviate sexual content.
The ramifications: Tyson enters the Indiana Youth Center in March of 1992 and spends three years there.
Bonus: Eleven years later ... "She's a lying, monstrous young lady -- I just hate her guts. She puts me in that state where I don't know ... but now I really do want to rape her."
6. Muhammad Ali v. U.S. military
7. Ray Lewis murder trial
The one-time first-round pick of the Carolina Panthers was tried for first-degree murder for the shooting of his pregnant girlfriend. Although acquitted of first-degree murder (and spared the death penalty), Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder (he had hired a hitman) and sentenced to nearly at least 19 years in prison.
9. Curt Flood v. Major League Baseball
10. Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore v. National Baseball Clubs