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It was all kind of anticlimactic, kind of pathetic, with this once-bright star reduced to groveling to a no-nonsense judge.

And America yawned.

America moved past Simpson long ago, even while he seemed stuck in place, forever fighting the Goldman family and trying to preserve what was left of his financial portfolio.

Whenever he made news over the years - and it was never flattering - he would be relegated to the inside pages of the newspaper. He had become an anecdote, a punch line, an artifact from the last century.

Simpson no longer could inflame a nation’s passion, as he had done in 1995. He no longer was a symbol of how two races judged the inequities of the justice system. He had become a sad figure just playing out his remaining years as a social pariah.

He was free, but only in a sense. He never could be free from 1995. He never could be what he once was - the affable personality who transcended race long before Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods came along. That had to haunt him late at night when he was alone with his thoughts.

It is funny how it works. Simpson beat a double-murder rap 13 years ago. Now he is going to prison over what amounts to a petty dispute in which no one was harmed.

“I’m sorry,” Simpson said, choking back tears. “I’m sorry for all of it.”

He will have plenty of time to look back on a life filled with regrets.