The team executive, employed by a rival of Buffalo's, was asked what O.J. Simpson meant to professional football. "Money," said the executive.
And to Buffalo? "A barrel of money," said the executive. " Simpson is the first athlete since Babe Ruth to have a stadium built for him [the 80,020-seat Rich Stadium in Buffalo], and when they filled it they filled it for Simpson, not the mediocre team the Bills had then. They still fill it for Simpson."
The personnel director said it was money, conversely, that finally diminishes the great players. There is too much to be made, keeping them locked in the game until they decay before your eyes. He said, "In my experience, only Otto Graham quit at the top. Look at Unitas. Look at Joe Namath now, how pitiful he is." But with O.J., he said, there was this new twist. "He has a second life already under way—television contracts, big movie deals. He may quit too soon."
The personnel director estimated that O.J. has at least two more seasons at the top, and then several more of being "good enough." He said he doubted the day would come that he would have to explain Simpson to someone who was seeing him play for the first time. He said he was glad that it was not necessary to think of that for now: he was glad that a man could still see Simpson sliding through a hole and into a secondary, and over airport railings and past cheering old ladies, better than ever and better than everyone.