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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.

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      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

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