O.J. Simpson told The Associated Press he participated in the ill-fated "If I Did It" book and interview project for one reason — personal profit, and he acknowledged that any financial gain was "blood money."
"This was an opportunity for my kids to get their financial legacy," Simpson said in interviews this week with the AP after the book deal was abandoned by its publisher. "My kids understand. I made it clear that it's blood money, but it's no different than any of the other writers who did books on this case."
The book, said to describe how he theoretically would have committed the murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, had been scheduled for release Nov. 30 following the airing of a two-part Simpson interview on Fox on Monday and Wednesday.
News Corp., owner of Fox Broadcasting and publisher HarperCollins, canceled the project after a public outcry and objections by advertisers and booksellers.
In a radio interview Wednesday, Simpson said the project was not a confession.
"I made it clear from the first day I met the writer that I wasn't involved," Simpson said on Miami's WTPS-AM. "I said, 'I have nothing to confess."'
Goldman's family, meanwhile, asked News Corp. to turn over its rights to the now-canceled book and interview, an attorney said Wednesday.
In two AP telephone interviews this week from his Florida home, Simpson declined to say how much of an advance he received for the book but said it was less than the $3.5 million that had been reported. He said the money has already been spent, including some he used to meet tax obligations.
Simpson said he was convinced the book would have been a best-seller.
"My kids would have been coming into a lot of money," he said, adding he desperately needs the cash because his retirement funds are dwindling.
Prepublication sales for "If I Did It," had been strong, but not sensational. It cracked the top 20 of Amazon.com last weekend but had fallen to No. 51 by the time the cancellation was announced.
Simpson said he deserved the harsh criticism for his role in the project, although he complained that News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch appears to be getting off easy.
"I'm taking heat and I deserve it," Simpson said. "But Murdoch should not be taking the high road either."
Publisher Judith Regan has portrayed the book as representing "O.J.'s confession," and it reportedly contains a chapter where he explains how he could have committed the killings.
But the former football star says he didn't commit the murders. He said was disappointed by Regan's portrayal of the book, which he said was ghostwritten: "I thought, 'This lady probably thinks I did it and I didn't."'
Simpson said he told a representative of the publisher that he would not allow the book's publication if it contained any graphic descriptions of "cutting or stabbing."
Asked how he felt about the effect the book would have on the victims' families, Simpson expressed bitterness toward Goldman's father, Fred, who has denounced Simpson as a liar and murderer.
Simpson was acquitted of murder in 1995 but was later found liable for the killings in a wrongful-death suit filed by the Goldman family. Simpson has failed to pay the $33.5 million judgment against him in that case, and his pensions and his Florida home cannot be seized.
He said Fred Goldman has helped drain his finances with "frivolous lawsuits," including one he brought recently attempting to deprive Simpson of the commercial rights to his own name. Although Simpson prevailed in court, he said he spent $17,000 in legal fees.
Fred Goldman's attorney, Jonathan G. Polak, said Goldman wants the rights to the material to ensure that all copies are destroyed and that News Corp. doesn't sell the rights to "some sleazy cable pay-per-view operation or video site."
A call to a News Corp. seeking comment was not returned. After Murdoch canceled the book and interview, News Corp. subsidiary HarperCollins said all copies of the book will be destroyed.
Simpson, 59, said his NFL pension pays only $1,700 a month and the private pension he amassed during the days when he was a TV pitchman and sports commentator is being halved next month because he's had to dip into the principal.
Although he knew the project would bring an avalanche of negative publicity, Simpson said he was willing to face it "if that's what it took."
Despite his financial troubles, Simpson indicated he wasn't entirely unhappy the project was abandoned.
"I feel like a man who's had the weight of the world taken off me," he said.