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OJ Simpson Biography

OJ Simpson Biography

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

OJ Simpson is one of the seminal members of the NFL running back fraternity. The “Juice” was simply a phenomenal football player, with numbers that still boggle the mind. Unfortunately for him, he later became better-known for criminal prosecutions, but during his time in cleats, he was a truly unique presence on the field.

Simpson notched what is probably the greatest season of all NFL backs in history. In 1973, when the NFL played only 14 games a season, Simpson set the rushing mark with an incredible 2003 yards. 40 years later, that mark has been broken, but not by much. It’s a no-brainer that in a 16-game season, Simpson would still hold that record.

Simpson came up in San Francisco. He was a good football player, but didn’t immediately join the ranks of big-time college ball. Out of high school, Simpson attended City College of San Francisco. His two years there were enough to get him to USC. In his two seasons with the Trojans, he led the nation in rushing both times. He was even a member of USC’s 4x100 record-breaking relay team. In 1968, with 22 rushing touchdowns, Simpson was named the Heisman Trophy winner.

Underlining his obvious potential, Simpson was the first pick of the 1969 NFL Draft, chosen by the Buffalo Bills. Unlike many superstar running backs, Simpson didn’t exactly hit the ground running in Buffalo, victimized by a ragtag cast of teammates, as Buffalo was truly awful during this period. He averaged only 642 yards in his first three NFL seasons. In 1972, he finally established himself as one of the NFL’s top backs, with a league-leading 1251 yards on the ground. Still, Simpson was stuck on a losing team, with Buffalo going a dismal 12-42-2 in Simpson’s first 4 seasons.


In 1973, Buffalo compiled a 9-5 record, with Simpson rushing for 2003 yards in only 14 games. Simpson was named the league MVP and had now achieved full-fledged superstardom. Simpson was in his prime and during the period from 1972 to 1976, it’s hard to find a better running back in the game’s history. During this stretch, Simpson averaged over 1500 yards a game. He was the rushing champion 4 times in 5 years. In 1975, he was almost as good as he was in ’73, when he gained 1817 yards with 16 rushing touchdowns.

Carrying the full load for Buffalo for the better part of a decade took an enormous toll on Simpson’s body. He was responsible for all the heavy lifting and by the time he was 30, he was breaking down physically. After an injury-plagued 1977 season where he gained only 557 yards, Simpson was traded to the San Francisco 49ers.

Back in his stomping grounds, Simpson felt invigorated, but the legs that had made him the best back in the league wouldn’t cooperate. With a little over 1000 yards and 6 touchdowns in two seasons with San Francisco, Simpson wrapped up his 11-year career following the 1979 season. At the time of his retirement, Simpson stood only behind Jim Brown on the all-time rushing list with an impressive 11236 yards. It’s worth noting that Simpson played in his prime when there were only 14 games a season. And most of the time, he was on some pretty bad Bills teams, playing in horrible weather, and the only real viable offensive weapon on his team. In a better situation, it’s not hard to imagine his numbers being even more-impressive.

Simpson was successful in his retirement, with endorsements and acting gigs keeping him in the spotlight. He was well-liked and seemed to be content in retirement. Next thing you knew, he’s in a Bronco being chased by the police on the LA freeway. Though eventually acquitted of double-murder charges, it was one of the more dramatic falls from grace in sports history.

Eventually, Simpson caught a big sentence for stealing memorabilia from a hotel room in Vegas at gunpoint, as his tumble continued. Beginning in 2008, Simpson was incarcerated. But on the field, his work is above reproach. A Heisman Trophy winner in college and the best back in the league during his prime, Simpson’s football legacy is robust. His feats on the field were incredible. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Simpson’s name is now shrouded in black. There was a time, however, when Simpson’s name shined brightly.

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