Just when you assumed O.J. Simpson’s number was out of circulation for Buffalo, the Bills have given it out for the first time in more than four decades.
O.J. Simpson spent the bulk of his NFL career, and all of his good years, with the Buffalo Bills. That includes four league rushing titles, and the first 2,000-yard season in league history in 1973. “The Juice” took his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
Leaving aside his post-career infamy associated with the double-murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman outside her home in 1995, it’s fair to assume the No. 32 Simpson wore for the Bills had been retired by the franchise. No one has worn it since his final season with the team in 1977. This week, that changed.
According to Tim Graham of The Athletic, running back Senorise Perry has taken No. 32 for the Bills. Perry wore the number in high school, college and with the Chicago Bears at the start of his NFL career before not having in recent years.
Perry was shocked it was available.
“I thought it was retired, but then I was told it was available. Boom, I took it,”
Simpson, however surprisingly, offered a brief comment on the use of his number for Graham’s piece.
“Whatever they do is fine with me,” Simpson said. “That’s how I feel. When I played there, I tried to honor the team. Since I left, I always tried to honor the Bills.”
With LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon and Devin Singletary locked in place right now, unless McCoy is traded or cut, Perry is competing most directly with Marcus Murphy for a roster spot in Buffalo. So it’s hardly a guarantee he makes it to a preseason game wearing Simpson’s number.
The Bills only have three retired numbers–Jim Kelly (12), Thurman Thomas (34) and Bruce Smith (78). So it’s not an honor they give out easily and didn’t start doing until after Kelly following the 2000 season.
As a practical matter, the question is whether this move will begin to distance the Bills from any association with Simpson.