"In a football game, I just don't want to be touched." That's O.J. Simpson's explanation as to why he wore short-sleeved jerseys no matter how cold the playing weather might have been. "I can feel tacklers better that way."
What he could sense or feel, he could elude with blasting spurts, uncanny cuts, and escaping fleetness.
At San Francisco City College in 1965-66, Simpson established himself as the all-time junior college rushing leader with 2,552 yards and 54 touchdowns.
At Southern Cal in 1967 and 1968, his 9.3-second 100-yard speed and explosive start, harmonizing with mystifying evasive bursts, led USC to national championship honors in 1967, including a 14-3 victory over Indiana on New Year's Day, 1968, in the Rose Bowl.
The 1967 season was also the year Simpson won 22 individual citations. He led the country in rushing with 1,451 yards on 266 carries and 11 touchdowns, and also won Back of the Year honors from United Press International, as all selectors gave him first team All-America recognition.
In 1968, he carried the ball 355 times for 1,709 yards and 22 touchdowns, while leading USC to a 9-0-1 regular season record, equaling or bettering a long list of USC records. Again, he was named to scores of All-America first teams and was granted 21 awards, including Rose Bowl MVP, the Heisman Trophy, and Maxwell Award.
As a professional, Simpson spent an 11 year career primarily with the Buffalo Bills. Simpson gained 11,236 rushing yards, placing him second on the NFL's all-time rushing list when he retired. He was named NFL Player of the Year in 1973, and played in six Pro Bowls. He was the only player in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a 14 game season and he's the only player to rush for over 200 yards in six different games in his career.
Simpson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, his first year of eligibility, and is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances that most have come to associate with him in his post football life, he remains one of the all time great football running backs at all levels of the game.