O.J. Simpson was granted parole this week after serving nine years for an armed robbery in Las Vegas. This, of course, after he beat a murder rap back in the 90s (you might have read about it).
O.J.’s return to the news conjured up memories for former Sanford Herald Managing Editor Ron Gustafson, who before moving to Sanford was editor of the Dunkirk Observer in Dunkirk, N.Y., less than an hour from Buffalo, where Simpson spent the majority of his NFL career.
In the 70s, Gustafson (who did sports on the side for the Observer) had access as a sideline photographer to several Bills games during Simpson’s heyday. He shared a few of his shots on Facebook Friday with the post: “Now that parole has been granted, should I see if I can get these autographed from my days as a sideline photographer at Buffalo Bills games?”
“It means more now to have those old negatives and prints than it did at the time,” Gustafson said. “Few papers were doing color then, so we shot black and white. I did some color slides for my personal files, though.”
Simpson became the first running back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in 1973, doing it in 14 games. He came close again two years later with 1,817 yards (and 16 touchdowns) in 1975. Gustafson said the Juice was once on the stadium’s wall of fame in Orchard Park, but his image was taken down after “the commotion.”
“We were at an Elton John/Billy Joel concert at (then) Rich Stadium back in the 90s, and Billy Joel came on stage saying, ‘E.J. and B.J. are here to help you forget about O.J.,'” he said. “Classic statement.”
Oh, but we’ll never forget O.J.