Friday, June 18, 2010

The OJ We Hardly Knew

Like a lot of kids growing up in the 70's my brother Mike and I grew up cheering for the Juice. I had an extra connection as my parents both grew up in Buffalo and my relatives were season ticket holders for the Bills so we would go up and watch them play around the holiday weekends.
OJ went to my families drugstore business in downtown Buffalo and was thought to be one of Buffalo's own; a regular sort of guy off the field. It is documented that OJ used to be very patient when filming various itterations of the Hertz Rent-A-Car commercials, the later of which, required him to be suspended from a wire harnass for hours on end.

I 'll tell you a story about OJ. I met an orthopedic surgeon at a conference in Montana who was MVP at a football camp & OJ gave the then kid an autographed football at the awards banquet
which was held in Niagara Falls. So later that night they cross paths in an elevator at the hotel & he says how he wanted to emulate his career. OJ looks him up & down and says "Fat chance kid!" OJ's pulling guard and best buddy Reggie McKenzie was with him at the time and protested "OJ why did you have to say that " And this is the best part of the story- he told me he took that football & threw it right in the trash. If I had been there I would have given the kid a standing o. Not exactly the iconic "Mean Joe Green" Coke commercial.

The truth was that OJ was cool with being OJ man of the people as long as OJ was the center of attention and adulation. Another running back, Gale Sayers wrote a book titled "I am Third". It was abook about his life and his short relationship with teammate Brian Piccolo. The title refers to the philosophy that the Lord is first, my friends and family are second and I am third. You look at our sports superstars today, Tiger Woods and the like and hope that a new generation of stars like rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg will give us sports heroes to cheer about on and off the field.

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