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Sports Then and Now



Video Is Worth A Thousand Words: O.J. Simpson’s 2,000-yard season 8

Posted on December 15, 2009 by Dean Hybl
On December 16, 1973, O.J. Simpson rushed for 200 yards against the New York Jets to become the first player in NFL history to pass the 2,000-yard rushing mark for a single season.

On December 16, 1973, O.J. Simpson rushed for 200 yards against the New York Jets to become the first player in NFL history to pass the 2,000-yard rushing mark for a single season.

In the wake of the continued dismantling of the Tiger Woods persona, I can’t help but think of another prominent African-American athlete who like Tiger was once an advertising force and one of the best known and most popular sports figures in the country.

While I am certainly not comparing anything that Tiger has been accused of doing to what led to the downfall of O.J. Simpson, I do think there are obvious comparisons in both the swiftness of the fall and the subsequent revelations that the public persona was really little more than a false facade.

This week marks the 36th anniversary of the greatest on-the-field accomplishment of O.J.’s Hall of Fame football career.

On December 16, 1973, Simpson rose to a level of greatness that had never previously been reached. In the final game of the regular season against the New York Jets he not only broke Jim Brown’s single season rushing record of 1,863 yards, but went on to become the first player (and only in a 14-game season) to eclipse the 2,000-yard rushing mark for a single season.

While I recognize that it is now difficult to separate the on-the-field greatness of O.J. with the off-the-field actions, I do still believe that his 2,000-yard season was one of the greatest individual performances in the history of professional sports.

In another installment of our occasional series looking at great athletes and moments through video, here is a look at O.J. Simpson’s march to a 2,000 yard season.

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

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      Archie Griffin

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is the only football player ever to capture college football’s top individual award twice.

      As a star running back for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Archie Griffin claimed the Heisman Trophy during his junior season in 1974 and then was able to repeat the honor the following season.

      Griffin joined the Buckeyes for the 1972 season, which happened to be the first in which freshmen were eligible to play varsity football, and made an immediate impact. After fumbling in his only carry of his first game, Griffin more than made up for it in his second game by rushing for 237 yards against North Carolina. By the end of the season, Griffin had rushed for 867 yards.

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