Simpson calls Kaepernick kneel protest 'mistake'

New York (AFP) - O.J. Simpson, the former NFL star infamously acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend, says Colin Kaepernick's US anthem kneeling protest was a mistake.

In his first major interview for 10 years with questions limited to his NFL career, 70-year-old Simpson told the Buffalo News that he worries about the impact of the degenerative brain disease CTE from years of head injuries.

"I get concerned," Simpson told the newspaper. "I do recognize that it probably affects you in short-term memory more than long-term.

"I know with me, I have days I can't find words. I literally cannot find words ort the name of somebody I know. That gets a little scary. Those days happen when I'm tired."

Simpson was an NFL legend, the first player to run for more than 2,000 yards in a season and the only one to do it when each team played only 14 games per campaign.

But his 1994 arrest on murder charges involving Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman led to an infamous trial and acquittal, although he later lost a civil suit for wrongful deaths.

In 2008, Simpson was arrested for felony armed robbery and kidnapping and impisoned until his release on parole last October.

Simpson, 70, also criticized both Kaepernick and US President Donald Trump, who in 2014 tried to purchase Simpson's former NFL club, the Buffalo Bills.

"If you were good, it would have been fun," Simpson said of a Trump-owned Bills team. "Donald is a man's man. He would have been a fun guy."

Simpson responded "probably not" about whether or not he would have voted for Trump for President.

But Simpson said he generally agreed with Trump in his criticism of Kaepernick, who began a kneeling protest by NFL players during pre-game renditions of the US anthem -- raising awareness of social injustice and racial inequality issues after several police killings of African-American men.

"I think Colin made a mistake," Simpson said. "I really appreciate what he was trying to say. I thought he made a bad choice in attacking the flag.

"I grew up at a time when deacons were in the KKK (Klu Klux Klan). I don't disrespect the Bible because of those guys. The flag shouldn't be disrespected because of what cops do. The flag represents what we want America to be."

Trump called for players to be fired for such displays and asked fans to boycott the NFL for failing to ban such protests, saying the kneel down insulted the nation and its soldiers.

Kaepernick was not signed by an NFL team for the 2017 season.

"When he did it the first time, I thought, 'Well you took a gamble and I give you credit,'" said Simpson. "But it was him continuing to do it where he made the biggest mistake.

"I'm a firm believer of doing what you think is right but I would always stand for the flag."