Before he felt comfortable wearing his Chiefs tie to O.J. Simpson’s Thursday parole hearing, Adam Endel did not worry much about whether it was appropriate or if anyone would be offended.
His bigger concern was what shirt to wear it with.
“I can’t match things very well,” he said. “So I have to wear solid colors most of the time. My wife’s not around always.”
The man with the Chiefs tie at the parole hearing of a notorious former running back gave an already bizarre event one more trending topic on Twitter and a thousand heck-is-that-guy-wearing? stories around the Internet.
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Endel is one of four Nevada Board of Parole commissioners who heard and eventually granted the Hall of Fame running back’s early release. Simpson was convicted and sentenced to at least nine years in prison in 2008 for what amounted to a cartoonishly bungled robbery of his own memorabilia.
It is a bizarre story, on so many levels, a man whose legal dream team helped beat the rap on a double homicide back in 1994 is now serving a sentence of up to 33 years for trying to steal his own stuff.
Simpson, if you’re curious, rushed for 458 yards and five touchdowns in five career games against the Chiefs.
The Chiefs, if you’re curious, won three of those games.
And Endel, as you’ve surely gathered by now, wore the tie less for Simpson than for the cameras and any buddies back home who would see it.
“Yeah, that’s safe to say,” Endel said. “It was one of those little things I figured someone might spot from Kansas City, but I didn’t realize it was going to blow up that much. It’s crazy now.”
Endel grew up an hour east of Kansas City in Knob Noster. He moved with his family in the fifth grade, and this was back in 1976 so the Royals’ side of Truman Sports Complex was jumping more than the Chiefs’.
He has memories of watching both teams in person, including $3 bleacher seats for the Royals. He graduated from Central Missouri in 1989, and moved to Nevada the next year to work at a conservation camp in Tonopah.
He’s lived in Nevada ever since, and being that far away means few chances to rep Kansas City.
“If you saw my office, it’s covered in Royals and Chiefs stuff,” Endel said.
Then comes the obvious follow-up question.
“No,” he said. “I do not have a Royals tie.”
Endel has served on the parole board since 2009, hearing more of these cases than he can count, but of course he knew this one would be unlike any he’s done before or will probably do again.
The board made certain concessions, too. There was a moment when board chairman Connie Bisbee mentioned that Simpson planned on moving to Florida, and Simpson cracked that he could stay in Nevada, but “I don’t think you want me here.”
Cue the awkward laughter.
“No comment,” Bisbee said.
But there were more fundamental differences, too, between other hearings and this one. Most hearings last 20 to 30 minutes. This was more than twice as long, with tremendous national and international news coverage. When’s the last time national networks aired a parole hearing?
So the commissioners tried to take advantage. They prepared as they normally would, but built in questions and procedural points that, in Endel’s words, could “educate the public on what we do and why we do certain things.”
They also don’t normally make a ruling the same day as the hearing.
“People are asking about that,” Endel said. “But the bottom line is, now we’re done with this, so come Monday morning we go back to normal business operations, you know what I mean?”
And the commissioners will go back to their normal lives, though now for Endel that will mean a new connection to Kansas City. He watches every Chiefs and Royals game that he can and says he’ll try to catch some games when he’s here for his mom’s birthday next month.
But he knows now his life will be at least a little different. He says he didn’t know the tie would get as much reaction as it has, but he also isn’t shying away from it.
For the rest of his life now, he’ll be That Guy Who Wore The Chiefs Tie To O.J.’s Parole Hearing.
He said he can’t remember the last time he wore it. But he’s pretty sure he’ll wear it again.
“I realize some people are going to be upset I wore a Chiefs tie,” he said. “That’s OK. They can be upset.”