"Looks like 63 points to me."
Then they met him at the airport: Patton, tall and burly and bearded; Reggie McKenzie, even taller, wearing a T shirt and shorts, looking like the absolute king of the mountain, a man you wouldn't mess with for $1,000 a minute; an old friend, Scrap Iron, wearing his pants pulled up high, a kind of weary and cool look in his eye; Patton's younger brother, also in a T shirt and shorts, and another fellow, quite dapper in a suit and a hat, driving a Lincoln Continental with a sliding sun roof.
"Yryowwwwwwwww!" cried Patton and McKenzie.
"Yryowwwwwwwww!" cried O.J.
They took O.J. to Delta State College, where he sat in a patio and answered questions and then was interviewed with McKenzie on a local television show.
"When I was drafted by Buffalo from the University of Michigan in 1972, I had already been to a Rose Bowl, and I lived with six guys, and we shined our own thing," McKenzie said. "So I didn't look at O.J. as any kind of superstar. I just had a job to do. But as time went on I realized what that man can do. If you hold your block a couple of seconds, he's gone."
O.J. said he never had played for a team that took a lot of drugs or regularly shot up injured players so they could play, but he said he never had played for San Diego, either. "My wife and I discussed the possibility of not playing this year," he said. "Financially we can do all right without it. But I want to play until Buffalo gets into the Super Bowl and then I want to step out on top, when it's my choice and not anybody else's."
After the interview O.J. decided he needed a pair of blue loafers. He was going to have dinner the next night in Detroit with Bills' Owner Wilson, and O.J. had only tennis shoes. He decided he would rather wear blue loafers to go with the dark blue suit, but he didn't want patent leather or stack heels. There is a shopping mall in Saginaw that has several shoe stores, and Patton took him there.
At once O.J. attracted crowds. Here were all these people who had no reason really to know O. J. Simpson was going to be walking through their shopping mall, but all of a sudden they poured around him wanting autographs, touches of flesh, just a look, an acknowledgment. They thrust at him menus, napkins, notepaper, receipts. He kept signing them: " O. J. Simpson, No. 31." A visitor had noted this oddity earlier when he happened to recognize in the portrait in Chuck Barnes' office that O.J. wears No. 32. "It's because when he was a kid he was so poor that he had a broken pen that he had to hold down by the tip to keep it together, and that's the way he learned to write, with his 2s looking like Is," Marilyn O'Brien had explained. Could this be true? "That's the story," said Marilyn. O.J. said he was writing 32, not 31.
A couple of young cops walked up to O.J., who was standing beside a planter box on a big aisle of the mall. The cops were white and had fairly long hair and mustaches. One seemed a bit embarrassed but the other told O.J. he would have to leave the mall because he was causing a public nuisance. He was drawing too big a crowd. "Man, I would think what you would want to have in a shopping mall is a crowd," O.J. said. Wrong, said the cop, you got to go.