Bills Give O.J. Simpson's No. 32 to Senorise Perry; Hasn't Been Worn Since 1977

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2019

Miami Dolphins running back Senorise Perry (34) warms up, before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
Joel Auerbach/Associated Press

For the first time since 1977, there is a No. 32 on the Buffalo Bills roster.

Running back Senorise Perry will be the first Bills player to wear the number since Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson.

"I thought it was retired, but then I was told it was available," Perry told The Athletic's Tim Graham. "Boom, I took it."

Perry, who signed with Buffalo in March, has worn No. 32 every chance he could get in honor of his family. Per Graham, the tradition began with Perry's grandfather, who wore 23 when he played football. But when Kibarah London, Perry's uncle, wanted "to be the total opposite as an athlete, as a man," he flipped the digits, and the rest is history.

Perry wore 32 during his college days at Louisville and during his first stop in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. He wore 34, though, with the Miami Dolphins the past two years, as Kenyan Drake opted not to surrender 32.

But when he learned the number was available with the Bills, Perry jumped at the opportunity—even if the number has special meaning in Buffalo.

"I know the situation," Perry told Graham. "I know that greatness comes with that number, playing in Buffalo. But I'm willing to take anything that comes my way. I'm going into my sixth year, and I know what it takes to get in this league and stay here. With that number on my back, I know I'm doing well for my family."

Meanwhile, the number's former owner is fine with it returning to circulation.

"Whatever they do is fine with me," Simpson told Graham. "That's how I feel. When I played there, I tried to honor the team. Since I left, I always tried to honor the Bills. And, to be honest, it's not something I think about. There's too much else going on in life."

After being taken by the Bills first overall in 1969, Simpson played nine seasons in Buffalo. He ran for 10,183 yards and 57 touchdowns, winning the 1973 NFL MVP award in the process.

In 1995, Simpson was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. A civil court later ruled he was liable for wrongful death in the case and ordered him to pay $33.5 million, a number that has since been inflated to more than $70 million.

The 71-year-old Simpson is out on parole after being sentenced to prison in 2008 for armed robbery and kidnapping following an attempt to recover stolen memorabilia items in Las Vegas. He was released from prison in October 2017 after spending nine years behind bars.