It is perhaps the most infamous name in professional sports. The player that millions once referred to as "Juice" is now synonymous with much darker things. It's hard to imagine that there was once a day when O.J. Simpson was one of the most respected athletes in the world.
Those days have long since passed.
The 1994 murder trial had forever tarnished his legacy. His conviction in the 2008 robbery case did not do his reputation any favors. I'm not here to pass judgement. I'm not here to take a side on this controversial debate. Rather, I'm interested in how sports fans view O.J. Simpson the football player.
In his heyday, Simpson was the premier running back in professional football. He retired as the league's second all-time leading rusher (only behind Jim Brown). Many have argued that if he played for a better team, he could have surpassed the phenomenal numbers established by Brown.
Simpson retired with over 11,000 rushing yards, including a then-record 2,003 rushing yards in a single season. Barry Sanders is the only other player to ever run for over 2,000 yards in a 14-game span (the season was shorter in 1973, and Sanders picked his game up in the final 14 games of the year in 1997).
The accolades do not end there.
O.J. has been inducted into both the NFL and College Football Hall of Fame. He won the Heisman trophy in 1968. He was a six time Pro Bowl selection, winning the Pro Bowl MVP as well as the league MVP in 1973. He is also a member of the 1970's all-decade team and the NFL's 75th anniversary team.
I find it unbelievable that the majority of people (even sports fans) are unaware of most of these accomplishments. Many people do not even know he played football.
Which brings me back to my original question. How do Bills fans view O.J. Simpson?
Have many of them forgotten? Would you feel comfortable having pride in his on-field accomplishments?
How do you judge such a scenario?