Does O.J. Simpson Still Hold The NFL Record For Yards Rushed In A Season? It's Complicated
Most '90s kids know of the name O.J. Simpson from the 1994 murder trial in which he was found not guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman and the media frenzy that ensued. But back in the '60s and '70s, he was a celebrated professional football player, becoming the first player in the NFL to rush more than 2,000 yards. But does O.J. Simpson still hold the NFL record for yards rushed in a season? The answer is a bit complex and will likely be revisited in ESPN's O.J.: Made in America. Simpson's 1973 record of 2,003 yards rushed in a single season with the Buffalo Bills has been beaten by six other players, according to Pro Football Reference.
But here's the the rub: Simpson's record was clinched when NFL teams played 14-game seasons, according to Fox Sports. The six other players on the all-time rushing in a single season list achieved their numbers when the league decided to extend its seasons to 16 games from 1978 and onward. So technically, Simpson still holds the record for most yards rushed in a 14-game season and is the only player ever to do so. Simpson set the record on Dec. 16, 1973 during a snowy game against the New York Jets, played at Shea Stadium. NBC Sports reported that reaching that milestone was Simpson's goal for that season, along with his teammates known as "The Electric Company" (and Simpson was the juice/electricity, get it?).
‘We got a 1,000 in the first seven [games],” Simpson said to NBC midway the 1973 season. “We’ll go for another 1,000 in the next seven.” At the time, a 2,000-yard season for a running back hadn't been done. As for Simpson, he seemed to fall under the radar in his first couple of NFL seasons. After he was drafted from a stellar college career at USC, he was injured and lost his passion for the game, according to NBC Sports. "The last two years I was playing football just for the money," he told Sports Illustrated in a 1971 interview. "I couldn't wait for the season to end so I could get out of Buffalo and go back home ... My first two years here I figured I'd play out my five, take my pension and quit. Now I'm thinking about playing eight years or 10 if I can make it."
The NFL lists Simpson as playing 11 seasons of pro football: Nine with the Buffalo Bills and two with the San Francisco 49ers. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Simpson led the league in rushing in 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1976, and received NFL Player of the Year honors three times. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985, which is the same year Simpson married Nicole Brown. After he retired, Simpson went onto become a sportscaster and an actor, appearing in The Naked Gun movies and many Hertz commercials. However, because of that trial in 1994, none of these records are what Simpson is most known for, and O.J.: Made in America will show how much his life changed because of it.