Al Cowlings

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Al Cowlings
No. 82, 76, 70, 72, 79
Position: Linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1947-06-16) June 16, 1947 (age 71)
San Francisco, California
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight: 250 lb (113 kg)
Career information
High school: San Francisco (CA) Galileo
College: USC
NFL Draft: 1970 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com

Allen Cedric "A.C." Cowlings (born June 16, 1947) is a former American football player and actor. He played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1970 to 1979 for the Buffalo Bills, Houston Oilers, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers. Cowlings was taken fifth overall in the first round by the Buffalo Bills in the 1970 NFL Draft.[1][2] Cowlings is most famous for his role in the capture of close friend O. J. Simpson on June 17, 1994, after a low-speed chase by police on Los Angeles freeways in connection to the homicide of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.

Early life[edit]

Cowlings was born on June 16, 1947, in San Francisco, and was raised in its Potrero Hill neighborhood. There, he was a member of the Superiors social club, which held meetings at the Booker T. Washington Community Center. He attended Galileo High School, where he played football. He later attended City College of San Francisco, where he also played on the football team.[3][4]

Football career[edit]

Cowlings was named an All-American defensive tackle after his senior year at the University of Southern California (USC).[5] During his senior year, the 1969 Trojan team went undefeated, and Cowlings led a powerful defensive line which was nicknamed "The Wild Bunch" after the movie of the same name.[5]

Cowlings was drafted fifth in the first round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He was a starter his first three years in Buffalo, but he was traded to Houston after the 1972 season. He played all 14 games for the Oilers in both 1973 and 1974, but he played just five games in 1975 for the Rams. In 1976, he became a charter member of the Seahawks, after being signed off the waiver wire when the Rams released him at the end of the pre-season. He played just one game, due to an injury he suffered while playing for the Rams in an exhibition game against the Seahawks.[5] He returned to the Rams in 1977, skipped the 1978 season, and finished his career in 1979 with the 49ers.

Acting career[edit]

Cowlings' first film role was in the 1985 film Bubba Until It Hurts, starring Bubba Smith, followed by a recurring minor role as Coach Nabors in the HBO football sitcom 1st & Ten, which also starred Simpson [6]. Cowlings also served as a technical football advisor on the football scenes in the 1991 Tony Scott film, The Last Boy Scout.

O. J. Simpson case[edit]

Cowlings was a close friend of Nicole Brown and her ex-husband O. J. Simpson, whom he was friends with since childhood. They were teammates at Galileo High School, San Francisco City College, USC, the Buffalo Bills, and the San Francisco 49ers. Cowlings dated Simpson's first wife Marguerite Whitley while they were attending Galileo High School and when they were having issues as a couple, Simpson stepped in as a mediator, but the discussion turned into a relationship and they would eventually marry in 1967; Cowlings was reportedly angry at the time, but their friendship prevailed.[7] They remained close friends and confidants through the years, with Cowlings being the godfather of Simpson's son Jason and a groomsman at Simpson and Brown's wedding in February 1985. Cowlings was also the ring bearer at mutual friends Robert and Kris Kardashian's wedding in July 1978.[8]

Following the murders of Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman on June 12, 1994, in which Simpson was a person of interest, Brown's funeral took place in the St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Brentwood on June 16, Cowlings' 47th birthday; Cowlings served as a gatekeeper and pallbearer at the funeral.

The next day, despite agreeing to turn himself in to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Simpson never showed up at the Parker Center station like he was supposed to. Later that day, witnesses reported seeing Simpson riding in a white Ford Bronco, a vehicle owned and being driven by Cowlings, thus becoming the object of a low-speed chase by police cruisers on the freeways. During the chase, Cowlings made a 911 call from a cell phone and claimed that Simpson was armed with a gun pointed to his own head, demanding that Cowlings drive him to Simpson's Rockingham estate in Brentwood, or Simpson would kill himself. The slow-speed chase was televised on live TV from helicopter. It interrupted coverage of the 1994 NBA Finals, and was viewed by approximately 95 million people in the United States alone. During the chase, Cowlings famously told the police: "My name is A.C., you know who I am, God damn it!" The chase ended at Simpson's Brentwood home, where Simpson eventually surrendered to police after a nearly hour long wait.[1][9]

Cowlings was charged with a felony for aiding a fugitive and was released approximately 12 hours after his arrest on $250,000 bail.[10] District Attorney Gil Garcetti eventually determined, however, that Cowlings would not be charged due to a lack of evidence.

During Simpson's criminal trial, Cowlings surprised the media with a press conference held a block from the courthouse. Cowlings retained Beverly Hills public relations firm Edward Lozzi & Associates to conduct the press conference, without revealing the reason or itinerary. Lozzi introduced Cowlings and Cowlings's attorney, Donald Re. Cowlings then announced he had created a 900 phone number for the public to ask him questions—about anything except the murder and trial. Cowlings read a one-minute prepared statement announcing the 900 number, which was simultaneously unveiled visually in the room. Reports that Cowlings realized over a million dollars from this $2-dollars-plus-a-minute 900 number could never be verified.[citation needed] Under oath in his deposition for Simpson's civil trial, Cowlings stated that the 900 number endeavor just "broke even."[11] This press conference was the only time Cowlings officially spoke to the media about anything related to the Simpson case.[citation needed]

Following the acquittal of Simpson in October 1995, the families of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman filed a civil suit against Simpson for wrongful death. Cowlings was subpoenaed and during both the deposition and trial took the Fifth Amendment when asked what he was doing between June 13, 1994, when Simpson returned from Chicago, and the freeway chase on June 17, 1994, as he could still be charged for aiding and abetting. However, he testified that he had seen Simpson throw out Brown's clothes from their apartment during an argument in 1979 and that while he was driving Brown to a hospital on New Year's Eve 1989, she told him Simpson hit her, which, along with Brown's recorded 911 calls, pictures of her being bruised and similar witness testimonies that concern physical aggression on Simpson's part against Brown, contradicted Simpson's civil trial testimony that he had never been abusive during their marriage.[12] Simpson was found liable for both deaths in February 1997.

Personal life[edit]

Cowlings is a member of the 2009 USC Athletic Hall of Fame class along with Junior Seau, Rodney Peete, and John Robinson.[13] USC's Cowlings Residential College is named in his honor. [14] Cowlings' Ford Bronco from the speed chase was purchased by Simpson's former sports agent Mike Gilbert. As of 2016, the vehicle is on loan to the Alcatraz East Crime Museum where it is on display as part of an exhibit on the O. J. Simpson murder trial.

In 2012, Fox News examined the lives of key individuals in the Simpson case and found that Cowlings was reportedly working as a handbag sales representative; in 2014, an ex-teammate told USA Today that Cowlings worked for B. Wayne Hughes, founder of Public Storage.[15] Six months later, USA Today quoted retired tennis player and friend of Cowlings, Joe Kolkowitz, saying that Cowlings had retired and is still living in Southern California.[16] According to TMZ in 2016, Cowlings had reportedly threatened to sue FX if he were portrayed negatively in the critically acclaimed series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, in which he is portrayed by Malcolm-Jamal Warner.[17]

In March 2018, months after his parole for armed robbery and kidnapping, O. J. Simpson indicated in an interview that he may have Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease common in athletes, who have suffered numerous head wounds or concussions, and that close friends and former teammates of his, including Al Cowlings, also struggle with the symptoms of CTE.[18]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Swift (1994)
  2. ^ Marcin (1971), p. 56.
    Ebony (Nov 1974), p. 170.
    Ebony (Nov 1977), pp. 170–172.
  3. ^ de Lama, George (June 21, 1994) "Cowlings, Simpson Inseparable, Even As Teens." Chicago Tribune. (Retrieved 7-1-2014.)
  4. ^ Wolf, Craig (June 19, 1994) "The Simpson Case: The Friend; A Lifelong Loyalty, True to the End." New York Times. (Retrieved 7-1-2014.)
  5. ^ a b c http://beckys-place.com/cowlings.html
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ Bugliosi (1997), p. 126.
  10. ^ "O.J. Simpson's Bizarre Saga In Ex-Wife's Murder Ends In Not Guilty Plea". Jet. 1994-07-04. p. 4. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  11. ^ "A.C. Cowlings Deposition of April 26". walraven.org Jack Walraven's Simpson Trial Transcripts. April 26, 1996. Retrieved August 24, 2017. Q: Okay. And how much did you make ultimately from this endeavor? A: We broke even. Q: That's all? A: Yeah. 
  12. ^ "Cowlings testimony contradicts Simpson - Dec. 3, 1996". CNN. December 3, 1996. Retrieved May 2, 2018. 
  13. ^ 2009 Inductees For USC Athletic Hall Of Fame Inductees Announced Archived 2008-10-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ http://www.insidesocal.com/usc/2017/06/28/usc-residential-college-named-al-cowlings/
  15. ^ [4]
  16. ^ [5]
  17. ^ [6]
  18. ^ [7]

References[edit]