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Ex-Palm Beach Post sports writer reflects on the unique O.J. Simpson he knew during his time in Buffalo

So O.J. Simpson is gone. Plenty of people would say “Good riddance,” however the O.J. I knew could be very different from the one who became higher known for an infamous double-murder trial than anything he did on the football field.

I met O.J. after I was covering the Buffalo Bills from 1974-76 for the Niagara (Falls) Gazette. I used to be 24 after I was assigned the beat and he was 27, while the 2 predominant beat writers, Larry Feller of the Buffalo News and Jim Baker of the now-defunct Courier-Express, were much older.

That gave me an edge in a locker room where I used to be a recent of many of the players. Two guys even offered to get me a playbook so I could understand the offensive and defensive philosophies before the coaches came upon and nixed the concept.

I used to be on the beat for 3 years (1974-76) before moving to Fort Myers in 1977 to cover the Dolphins. I told people for years afterward that O.J. was my favorite player to cover in any sport because he was so media-friendly and down-to-earth.

Listed here are a number of of my recollections:

O.J. stiffed CBS’ Phyllis George

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reprinted this story in his weekly recap and it says lots concerning the O.J. I knew.

One Sunday after a house game, I went to him and asked if I could get a sit-down the next Wednesday. He said sure. That day got here and I quickly learned Phyllis George was up within the office of PR man Budd Thalman to interview O.J. for that week’s CBS pregame show.

Recognizing my interview was now on the back burner, I trudged back to the locker room after practice only to see O.J. the minute I opened the door asking “You ready?” We spent the subsequent half-hour in the most effective interview I had with him while the PR guy stomped forwards and backwards outside the room. I later realized O.J. hadn’t been informed George was coming and stalled her so long as he could to prove some extent.

Bills players had numerous respect for O.J.

After a Monday night game in Cincinnati that the Bills lost, the players within the locker room were irate over the undeniable fact that one among the Bengals had spit within the face of one among the Bills at the tip of the sport. And irate is putting it mildly; they were enraged.

O.J.’s leadership was on display that night. He took charge, calmed everybody down, and guaranteed his teammates it could be handled the proper way. The respect his teammates had for him was on full display.

O.J. Simpson became the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season in 1973.

O.J. remembered the beat author from Buffalo

I used to be writing a radio/TV column for The Palm Beach Post when O.J. got here to town as a broadcast analyst to do a Monday night game involving the Dolphins.

I arrange an interview with him through ABC and drove all the way down to the Sonesta Beach Hotel on Key Biscayne, sitting all the way down to wait outside the room for the production meeting to finish. When it did the door flew open, O.J. did a double-take and approached me with an enormous smile and a “Hey Brian!” We had an awesome interview, and that is the last time I saw him and the last story I did on him.

The perfect I ever saw O.J. was a game against Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium early within the 1975 season. Coming off one Super Bowl and on their option to one other, the Steelers had held him to 49 yards in what can be the one playoff game he would play for Buffalo at the tip of 1974.

This one was different: He ripped through the Steel Curtain for 227 yards, an 8.1 average, including an 80-yard TD. Many consider that yr, when he led the league with 1,817 yards and 23 touchdowns, to be even higher than 1973, when he became the primary player to amass 2,000 yards on the bottom.

I got here away from the O.J. trial with the identical verdict as most everyone I knew: He did it.

The O.J. I remember will not be that guy.

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