Despite Controversial Career, O.J. Simpson’s Impact and Legacy Can’t Be Denied

Author’s note: Due to the overwhelming response to my article on Michael Vickwhere the feedback was almost evenly divided for and against, I have decided to write a series of articles about athletes past and present who were or are loved by some, hated by many, and quite controversial.

Before there were the likes of Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders, the first two names that came to mind when you think of greatest running backs are Jim Brown and Orenthal James Simpson.

More commonly known as O.J., Simpson won the 1968 Heisman trophy out of USC, a year after finishing second. He was the number one overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in the 1969 draft. He was named to the Pro Bowl six times in his 11-year career. In 1973, he rushed for 2,003 yards. In 1985, he was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame. 

After his playing career, Simpson was a sportscaster, spokesperson, and actor. O.J. was a star, a guy many perceived as a likable guy. 

But those born after the 1980s know him not as that great of a football player, but rather from the infamous white Bronco chase, the Trial of the Century, and the glove not fitting, or as he’s widely perceived, the guy that literally got away with murder.

While he was acquited of the brutal double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman, O.J. did serve jail time stemming from an incident in Las Vegas over his stolen memorabilia.

His image is tainted, by people’s perceptions. But can the two images be separated? The one shredding defenses with the ball in his hand. Or the one who many still think is guilty although he was acquitted.

In the case of the NFL, they included him in their 100 greatest players, and rightfully so. Although being born in 1976, I’m not old enough to have seen him play live, I have seen archived footage and heard my father’s description of O.J.’s playing career.

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny his impact on the sport of football.


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