Buffalo Bills: 15 best first-round draft picks of all-time

Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport
Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport /
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O.J. Simpson, Buffalo Bills
O.J. Simpson, Buffalo Bills. (Pool Photo/Getty Images) /

Before the trial of the century in the mid-1990s, running back O.J. Simpson was hands down the best running back in football in the 1970s. He was the shining star in Buffalo, as the first tailback to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, doing so in 1973 and in 14 games. Buffalo certainly made a no-brainer decision to take the former Heisman Trophy winner out of USC No. 1 overall in the 1969 NFL Draft.

Simpson would play his first nine NFL seasons in Western New York from 1969 to 1977. He would earn Pro Bowl honors as a rookie in 1969. Three years later, Simpson would enter his prime and wouldn’t leave it until 1977. Simpson rattled off five-straight Pro Bowls and All-Pro nods, including the 1973 NFL season where he won NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.

After the 1977 NFL season, Simpson would be traded to his hometown team in the San Francisco 49ers. With San Francisco, he would play two more uneventful years before retiring after the 1979 campaign. He would have a successful post-NFL career in cinema and television before his infamous murder trial.

Simpson led the NFL in rushing four times and was named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team and the NFL 75th Anniversary Team. He rushed for 10,183 yards on 2,123 carries for 58 touchdowns in nine years with the Bills.

Simpson is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He earned Canton enshrinement in 1985 in a class with guys like quarterback Joe Namath and NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.