Anything AC Can Do, OJ Can Do Better: The Sad Story of Al Cowlings

In the realm of celebrity friendships, few tales are as poignant and tragic as that of Al AC Cowlings and the infamous O.J. Simpson

Their story is a sobering reminder of the perils of living in someone else’s shadow, where even the brightest accomplishments can be overshadowed by the blinding spotlight of fame and notoriety.

Who is Al “AC” Cowlings? The Unsung Sidekick

To understand the depth of Al Cowlings’ life in the shadows, we must first understand who he was. Born in 1947 in San Francisco, AC shared a remarkable number of similarities with his lifelong friend, Orenthal “OJ” Simpson

They attended the same high school (Galileo High School) and alma mater (the City College of San Francisco and the University of Southern California), where they both excelled as athletes in the world of professional football.

Like OJ, Cowlings was drafted into the NFL, selected fifth overall by the Buffalo Bills in the 1970 draft (Simpson was the first overall pick in 1969). While OJ’s NFL career blossomed into a celebrated 11-season journey filled with accolades like being named MVP and a five-time Pro Bowler, AC’s NFL career took a different path.

Cowlings spent nine seasons in the league, primarily on the defensive side of the ball, playing for four different teams (Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers). His tenure was respectable but lacked the meteoric rise and widespread fame that his friend OJ experienced as an offensive superstar.

The Marguerite Connection – When Friendship Turned to Betrayal

Perhaps the most significant strain on the bond between Cowlings and Simpson was their shared connection to Marguerite Whitley, who would later become OJ’s first wife

In a cruel twist of fate, Whitley was AC’s high school girlfriend before OJ swooped in and stole her heart, leaving Cowlings betrayed by his closest friend.

Despite this betrayal, their friendship endured, with AC serving as a groomsman at OJ’s wedding to Nicole Brown Simpson. Cowlings even became the godfather to OJ’s and Marguerite’s son, Jason.

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The Bronco Chase and Its Aftermath

No discussion of Al Cowlings would be complete without addressing the infamous “White Bronco” chase that gripped the nation in 1994. 

As OJ fled from authorities in his white Ford Bronco, it was none other than AC behind the wheel, thrust into the spotlight as an unwitting participant in one of the most notorious events in American pop culture history.

The VehicleThe white 1993 Ford Bronco belonged to Al Cowlings
The ChaseOn June 17, 1994, Cowlings drove the Bronco as OJ fled from authorities
The OutcomeAC faced legal troubles and had to testify in the subsequent trials

In the aftermath of the slow-speed pursuit, Cowlings found himself entangled in a web of legal battles and courtroom testimonies, forever cementing his identity as the man behind the wheel – “OJ’s friend”.

Life After the Limelight – AC’s Quiet Existence

After the media frenzy subsided, Al Cowlings retreated from the public eye, reportedly working as a handbag sales rep before eventually retiring to a quieter life in Southern California. 

In a rare glimpse into his personal life, it was revealed in 2016 that Cowlings had been married to his wife, Marion La Hood, since 1993, finally finding lasting love after the tumultuous saga with Marguerite Whitley and OJ Simpson.

The toll of his NFL career may have left lasting effects, as OJ himself has stated that AC deals with symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain condition often linked to repeated head injuries in contact sports.

Al Cowlings is a great guy, but he struggles with CTE symptoms from his playing days.” -OJ Simpson, on his friend’s health: 

In a cruel twist of irony, the man who spent his life in the shadows of greatness may now face his own private battles. It is a sobering reminder of the sacrifices made by those who often go unnoticed.


The story of Al Cowlings is a cautionary tale about the dangers of living in someone else’s shadow. Despite sharing so many parallels with OJ Simpson – from their education and athletic careers to their intertwined personal livesAC could never quite escape the overshadowing presence of his famous friend.

As we reflect on this tragic narrative, let us remember to appreciate the unsung heroes and sidekicks who often go overlooked, for their stories remind us that true greatness is not measured solely by fame and fortune, but by the strength of character it takes to persevere in the face of adversity.

Al Cowlings may have been the “right-hand man” to one of the most infamous celebrities in modern history, but his life serves as a poignant reminder that we all have the potential to shine, even in the darkest of shadows.

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