New York — It may be about more than the money. Experts say that, in writing a book about how he hypothetically could have committed murder, O.J. Simpson may be trying to recapture the limelight. Or maybe, just maybe, he is trying to get something off his chest.
Even his own publisher, Judith Regan, has pronounced the book Simpson's confession, saying in a statement Friday that she had been told by experts that killers often confess first in hypothetical fashion before they come clean.
"For many of them," she said, "it is the only way to tell the truth."
The book, "If I Did It," is due out Nov. 30, and Regan will interview the former football star in a two-part, sweeps-month showcase on Fox television Nov. 27 and 29. The interview is billed as a hypothetical discussion of how Simpson might have killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994.
The strangest publishing sensation of the year has raised the question of why: Why would Simpson write such a thing?
Psychologists and criminal justice experts said the reason is almost certainly deeper and more complex than money.
While financial details of the book and interview have not been made public, Regan said she had been told the money would go to Simpson's children. And the victims' families can try to go after the proceeds to help cover the still-unpaid $33.5 million judgment against him in the wrongful-death lawsuit he lost in 1997.
Saul Kassin, a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said it was true that interrogators trying to coax confessions from suspects sometimes asked them to reconstruct crimes hypothetically.
He said it was possible Simpson was offering a false confession. People in criminal cases, guilty and innocent alike, have been known to confess to things they didn't do, for all sorts of reasons, including coercion or a guilty conscience. Or, Kassin said, Simpson could be offering a true confession, couching it just in case.
"People sometimes do this just to get it off their chest, as a means of release, as a catharsis," Kassin said. "We'll just never know."
If Simpson's goal was to return to the national conversation, he appears to have achieved it. Word of the project brought down abuse on Simpson and disgust for his publisher.
Regan defended herself in a long statement Friday, suggesting she was honoring the memories of Simpson's ex-wife and her friend, looking out for his children and seeking "closure" from her own history of being abused.