Bills hand out O.J. Simpson's number for the first time in 42 years and here's who got it

For the first time in 42 years, the Bills have decided to let one of their players wear O.J. Simpson's old number.  

Simpson, who spent nine seasons in Buffalo, wore No. 32 during his entire career with the Bills. After Simpson left the team in 1977, the Bills didn't let anyone else wear it until this week, when they handed out the number to running back Senorise Perry

Perry chose the number because it's what he wore during his high school and college careers. Perry also wore the number in Chicago during his first two seasons in the NFL, but then he had to give up when he signed with the Dolphins in 2016. 

The fact that the number was available actually came as a total surprise to Perry, who assumed that no one was allowed to wear it. 

"I thought it was retired, but then I was told it was available. Boom, I took it," Perry told The Athletic.

From a football standpoint, there's a good reason why Perry had thought the number was already retired, and that's because Simpson put together a Hall of Fame career in Buffalo. After being selected by the Bills with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1969 NFL Draft, Simpson went on to lead the league in rushing four times while also being name NFL MVP once (1973). 

Simpson also became the first running back ever to crack the 2,000-yard mark in 1973, and the most impressive part about that feat is that he did at a time when the NFL's regular season was just 14 games long. 

"I know that greatness comes with that number, playing in Buffalo," Perry said. "But I'm willing to take anything that comes my way. I'm going into my sixth year, and I know what it takes to get in this league and stay here. With that number on my back, I know I'm doing well for my family."

Of course, if you're wondering why the number isn't retired, the answer to that is probably obvious. Simpson was charged and later acquitted for the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Although he was found not guilty in a court of law, he did lose the case in civil court when he was sued by the Goldman family shortly after the acquittal. 

Simpson's legal troubles didn't end after that. The 71-year-old spent nearly 10 years in prison after he was convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas in 2008. The former Bills running back was released in October 2017

Although Simpson's number was basically unofficially retired, Simpson didn't seem to mind when he found out that someone would be wearing No. 32 this year. 

"Whatever they do is fine with me," Simpson told The Athletic. "That's how I feel. When I played there, I tried to honor the team. Since I left, I always tried to honor the Bills. And, to be honest, it's not something I think about. There's too much else going on in life."

The Hall of Famer now spends most of his time in Vegas and apparently, he's still pretty popular with Bills fans there. 

"Even here in Vegas, I run into Bills fans all the time," Simpson said. "They've always been positive with me. I've always been positive with them. In every way shape or form, when I was a player or covering their games for 'Monday Night Football,' I've always honored the Bills and will continue to do that. Whatever they decide to do will not change the way I feel about the people of Buffalo and my time spent there."

Although Perry is wearing No. 32 now, there's no guarantee he'll be wearing it when the season starts, and that's because he might not make the team. The running back will be facing some serious competition at his position in the form of LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon. The Bills also drafted a running back (Devin Singletary) in the third round this year. 

With Simpson's number being handed out in Buffalo, that means there are only three numbers that Bills players aren't allowed to wear due to the fact that they've been retired: No. 12 (Jim Kelly), 78 (Bruce Smith) and 34 (Thurman Thomas)

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories