Take-Two Football Game Depicts O.J. Simpson and Knife-wielding Mascot

Following a lengthy embroilment brought on by its AO-rated title Manhunt 2, Take-Two is again undergoing criticism for the content of one of its properties, and this time due to an old controversial figure: O.J. Simpson.

A new video on GameTrailers.com for Take-Two subsidiary 2K Sports' All-Pro Football 2K8 shows a playable version of Simpson scoring a touchdown, after which a giant knife-wielding mascot makes stabbing motions above a scoreboard.

Take-Two has not denied that the content exists in the game, but argues that the mascot has no relation to the playable Simpson character. The hooded figure is "not specifically associated with O.J. Simpson, and the game does not promote any such connection," said a Take-Two spokesperson, according to TheStreet.com.

In the trailer, Simpson's team--named "The Assassins"--features a logo with a gloved hand holding a knife, which is displayed across the middle of the field during play. There is no indication Take-Two created the trailer itself, as GameTrailers frequently records its own footage.

All-Pro Football 2K8 allows players to freely assign football stars such as Simpson to whatever teams they wish. As Electronic Arts owns the sole right to the NFL license, All-Pro developer 2K Sports created unique teams for the game, one of which is named "The Assassins." In that light, the incident is revealed as more of a painful coincidence than a deliberate connection.

"This whole thing is just beyond any comment and shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone," said David Cook, lawyer for Fred Goldman, the father of Ron Goldman. Nicole Brown and Goldman were both slain in 1994, found stabbed to death outside Brown's home in Los Angeles, California. The 1995 trial of Simpson for the murders, his acquittal, and the subsequent civil proceeding which found him liable for Goldman's death, is history.

"As to whether Mr. Simpson is entitled to participate in any revenue stream based on the video and other rights, this matter is being studied," Cook added.

Simpson's money has been a point of contention ever since the conclusion of the civil trial in 1997. A recent deal for a book titled "If I Did It"--a supposedly hypothetical tale of how Simpson might have carried out the infamous murders--was at first cancelled due to public outcry, but now is seeing release by Canadian publisher Lifetime Books.

On September 5, 2006, Fred Goldman took Simpson to court over his "right to publicity," with a California state judge ordering Simpson earlier this year to restrict his spending to "ordinary and necessary living expenses."

Also facing its own battles, Take-Two was recently forced to suspend the release of subsidiary Rockstar Games' upcoming title Manhunt 2 after it was rated Adults Only by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

The publisher was adament in its defense of Rockstar's game, with Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick labeling Manhunt 2 as a "a fine piece of art" in a statement to the press.