In the hospitality room there were about 100 toy buyers from all over the country, and maybe 35 representatives of Kenner Products and its boss company, General Mills, makers of Wheaties. They had been lured to Cincinnati for a meeting and toy-hustling gala that included golf, tennis, a banquet, plenty of cocktails and tables laden with shrimp and meatballs and little sausages.
The gala included, too, as its main course, O. J. Simpson. In the last week Simpson had been at the Las Vegas Hilton for a banquet for the City of Hope Victor Award, in Chicago for the NFL Players Association dinner, in Appleton, Wis. for the 1,000 Yard Club dinner with his Buffalo offensive line as guests, in Buffalo to register his two children in school, and now to Cincinnati to pal it up with people who would buy and sell the O. J. Simpson See Action Football Game.
There may have been a few cynics in the crowd (if so, they were a secret society), but most of the toy people were as thrilled as little boys at the prospect of standing close to the first man who ever gained more than 2,000 yards running with the ball in a single National Football League season. All-America at USC, Heisman Trophy winner by the biggest vote margin of all time, NFL Player of the Year, Hickok Belt winner, self-made semimillionaire from off the streets, television and movie actor, etc. In other words, O. J. Simpson.
"What's he like?"
"Who, the Juice? Haven't you met the Juice?"
"Hell of a guy. Real man and nice as can be."
"He sure fills out a shirt, boy. I'll tell you that."
Upstairs Simpson and his wife Marguerite were sprawled on a king-size bed in their suite. They were very tired, and Marguerite could dredge up little joy at the idea of going down to mingle with the toy people. Marguerite is an exotically beautiful woman who has studied the art of makeup and uses it with stunning effect. She had brought enough suitcases to fill half of a room. All she wanted to do was unpack and watch television, but O.J. got up and put his tennis shoes back on.
"We ought to go on down," O.J. said. "It won't take long."