In the nearly 100 year history of the National Football League (NFL) only seven individuals have rushed for more than 2,000 yards in a season. However the only man in NFL history to amass over 2,00 yards rushing in 14 games was also the first to break the 2,000 yard threshold: O.J. Simpson.
Mr. Simpson’s performance as the running back for the Buffalo Bills throughout the 1973 season is arguably the greatest single season by any running back in NFL history.
Mr. Simpson would be the first to note that this unmatched accomplishment was a collective one, not an individual one. The rest of the Buffalo Bills offensive unit, nicknamed the Electric Company, provided the blocking power to turn on the Juice to allow him to gain more rushing yards in 14 games than any NFL player before or since.
The Buffalo Bills final game of the 1973 season was against the New York Jets on December 16th at Shea Stadium. The game was held in near-blizzard conditions.
The Jets entered the game with a 3-9 record but a determination to allow their retiring head coach Weeb Ewbank to end his career with a victory. The Jets defense were focused on preventing Coach Ewbank’s swan song to be overshadowed by Mr. Simpson gaining enough rushing yards to break Jim Brown’s NFL rushing record of 1,863 yards.
With a six yard run with 4:26 remaining in the first quarter Mr. Simpson had broken the rushing record set by Jim Brown 10 years earlier. The referee handed Mr. Simpson the football he had carried in his record setting run and as Mr. Simpson jogged to the sideline to give the football to the Bills’ manager for safekeeping, his Buffalo teammates chanted “More Juice, more!”
It seemed that the Juice, the Electric Company and Bills head coach Lou Saban had a more insurmountable goal in mind: to gain enough yards to cross the 2,000 yard threshold.
The Bills led the Jets 34-14 late in the fourth quarter and Mr. Simpson had gained 193 yards rushing against the Jets defense. With 6:28 remaining in the game Mr. Simpson ran the ball for 7 yards which brought his 14 game total to 2,003 yards rushing – an achievement that had never been done before and has never been done since.
Following Buffalo’s 34-14 victory over the New York Jets the NFL public relations staff set up an interview area in the boiler room of Shea Stadium, This interview area was incredibly small with pipes hanging down causing everyone in the room to have to crouch down to avoid hitting their head on the pipes. Mr. Simpson refused to speak with the media without the rest of the Bills’ offensive team: the Electric Company. The NFL public relations staff reluctantly agreed and the Juice and the Electric Company cramped into the boiler room and met the media.
Mr. Simpson began by saying “I want to introduce the cats who did the job all year” and proceeded to introduce the ten other members of the Bills offense and share a personal story about each: Wide Receiver J. D. Hill; Flanker Bob Chandler; Tight End Paul Seymour; Tackles Dave Foley and Don Green; Guards Reggie McKenzie and Joe DeLamielleure; Center Mike Montler; Quarterback Joe Ferguson and Fullback Jim Braxton.
When the Bills showed up for training camp the next July, Simpson gave each of his Electric Company helpers a gold bracelet. It had their name, number and an inscription: “O.J. We Did It. 2,000 Yards.”
From deep in the archives of CBS News, we hope you enjoy the coverage of Mr. Simpson’s unprecedented accomplishment presented by Hughes Rudd on the Monday, January 17, 1973 edition of the CBS Morning News: