Heisman Trophy Winner And NFL Legend O.J. Simpson Dies At 76

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By David Jordan Jr

The family of O.J. Simpson announced that he died on Wednesday April 10, 2024 after a battle with cancer in Las Vegas. Simpson was seventy-six years old when he died.

O.J. Simpson’s life began in San Francisco California where he was born and where he carved his niche in the world of sports. Starring at Galileo High School, Simpson earned all-city honors for his performance on the football field. Upon graduation, he would begin his college football career at City College of San Francisco, where he would become a junior college all-American.

Simpson would transfer to the University of Southern California (USC) where his unique ability would change the landscape of not only sports in Southern California, but sports across the United States of America. As a Trojan, Simpson was a two-time All American and in 1968 he won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Awards. Simpson was also on the USC track and field team where he was apart of the 4×110 yard relay team, winning  NCAA track and field championship in 1967.

His play on the field would lead to him becoming the number one pick in the 1969 NFL/AFL draft, as he was selected by the Buffalo Bills. The beginning of the professional career of O.J. Simpson would transcend how professional athletes would not only earn money on the field, but also how athletes would earn money off of the field through endorsements and the world of Hollywood.

Simpson’s rookie contract of $650,000 over five years, was at the time the largest contract in the history of sports. Playing for the Buffalo Bills, Simpson would set the standard as an NFL running back. that was previously set by NFL legend Jim Brown. In 1973 Simpson would set the then all time rushing record for a season as he rushed for 2,003 total rushing yards and scored 12 touchdowns.

Simpson’s play on the field led to many lucrative opportunities off of the field in the realm of endorsements. Simpson would make millions from endorsements with Hertz, Tree Sweet, Wilson, Schick and General Motors as a brand ambassador for each of these companies. This was ground breaking for a black athlete during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, as the United States of America was a country that had recently enforced integration in its public school system, and while many states of the Jim Crow South still had many racist tactics and practices in place.

Hertz Commercial

Sweet Tree Commercial


Chevrolet Commercial

Schick Commercial

O.J. Simpson the man was able to transcended the world of sports and cross the color barrier with his athletic prowess, his intellect, his charm and his good looks, attributes that are common in many of today’s athletes that make a significant amount of money from endorsements. O. J. Simpson was the first.

As an actor Simpson had thirty seven different credits in roles on television and in feature films. His most notable roles were in the Naked Gun Series and in the Alex Haley television mini-series “Roots.” Simpson also hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live in 1978. Simpson’s career in front of the camera expanded as an analysts for NBC Sport’s coverage of the NFL.





O.J. Simpson In The Television Miniseries Roots

In the summer of 1994 Simpson would be arrested and charged in the murder of his second wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The trial would begin on November 9, 1994 and last until October 3, 1995, when Simpson was acquitted of all charges that were brought against him.

The arrest and subsequent trial of O.J. Simpson would change the public’s perception of him, but the facts about his prowess as an athletes, entertainer and endorser will forever remain. O.J. Simpson was a trailblazer in the world of sports when it came to maximizing the earning potential on Madison Avenue. The legacy of accomplishments and success attained by O.J. Simpson inspired a generation of athletes after him to reach their full potential in their sport and also in their earning potential outside of their sports.

O.J. Simpson: A Photo Essay

Playing Career Highlights

NFL Most Valuable Player (1973)
NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1973)
5 Time First-team All-Pro (1972–1976)
5 Time Pro Bowl (1972–1976)
AFL All-Star (1969)
Bert Bell Award (1973)
AP Athlete of the Year (1973)
3 Time UPI AFC Offensive Player of the Year (1972, 1973, 1975)
4 Time NFL rushing yards leader (1972, 1973, 1975, 1976)
2 Time NFL rushing touchdowns leader (1973, 1975)
NFL scoring leader (1975)
NFL 1970s All-Decade Team
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame
National champion (1967)
Heisman Trophy (1968)
Maxwell Award (1968)
Walter Camp Award (1967)
2 Time UPI Player of the Year (1967, 1968)
SN Player of the Year (1968)
2 Time Unanimous All-American (1967, 1968)
2 Time First-team All-Pac-8 (1967, 1968)
USC Trojans No. 32 retired
NJCAA All-American (1966)