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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: O.J. asks out

   June 17, 1976 -- The Buffalo Bills had the brightest star in the football heavens under contract in the summer of 1976.

   O.J. Simpson was coming off three fabulous seasons. He ran for 2,003 yards in 1973, led the Bills to the playoffs in 1974, and picked up 1,817 yards rushing and scored 23 touchdowns in 1975.

   There was a surprise waiting for the Bills that summer. Simpson said in public that he only planned to play one more season in the NFL, and he wanted to do it on the West Coast.

   "It has nothing to do with money or a new contract. It has to do with a number of things, mainly wanting to stay near my family and not be separated for another football season," he said to the Associated Press.

   The Bills took the statement seriously. They gave the Los Angeles Rams permission to talk to Simpson about a new contract on this date. However, those talks went nowhere, and the Bills essentially backed up the payroll truck in order to give Simpson a bundle of money to keep him in Buffalo.

   Considering the way the Bills fell apart in 1976, falling all the way to 2-12, maybe Simpson had an idea
what was happening. He did play his final two seasons on the West Coast, going to San Francisco for 1978 and 1979.

--- Budd Bailey

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