July 29, 2011

MVP Profile: O.J. Simpson, 1973

Running Back, Buffalo Bills


Age: 26
5th season in pro football & with Bills
College: Southern California
Height: 6’1” Weight: 212

Prelude:
Following an outstanding college career capped by winning the 1968 Heisman Trophy, the highly-coveted Simpson was drafted by the Bills with the first overall pick in the combined AFL/NFL draft. His pro career started slowly, as he was used sparingly and missed time due to injury during his first three seasons, never carrying more than 182 times or gaining more than 742 yards. However, the return to Buffalo of Head Coach Lou Saban in 1972 marked a change as Simpson became the centerpiece of the offense and led the NFL in rushing with 1251 yards, earning 1st-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.

1973 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 332 [1]
Most attempts, game - 39 (for 157 yds.) vs. Kansas City 10/29
Yards – 2003 [1]
Most yards, game – 250 yards (on 29 carries) at New England 9/16
Average gain – 6.0 [2]
TDs – 12 [1, tied with Floyd Little]
200-yard rushing games – 3
100-yard rushing games – 11

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 6
Most receptions, game – 3 (for 33 yds.) vs. Philadelphia 10/7
Yards – 70
Most yards, game - 33 (on 3 catches) vs. Philadelphia 10/7
Average gain – 11.7
TDs – 0

Passing
Attempts – 2
Completions – 1
Yards – -3
TD passes – 0
Interceptions – 0

All-purpose yards - 2073 [1]

Scoring
TDs – 12 [5]
Points – 72

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: AP, NEA, Bert Bell Award
NFL Offensive Player of the Year: AP
AFC Player of the Year: Sporting News
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly
1st team All-AFC: AP, UPI, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Bills went 9-5 to finish second in the AFC East while leading the NFL in rushing yards (3088). It was their first winning record since 1966.

Aftermath:
Simpson was a consensus 1st team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection after each of the next three seasons, setting a then-league record with 23 TDs in 1975 while also gaining 1817 yards on the ground. Injuries in 1977 limited him to seven games and he was dealt to the 49ers, where he spent his last two seasons (1978 and ’79). Upon retirement, he had gained 11,236 rushing yards, the second-highest total up to that time. Simpson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1985.

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MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/15/14]

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