By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 9: March 24, 1978 – The Bills trade O.J. Simpson to San Francisco for a second-round draft choice in 1978 (Scott Hutchinson), a third-round draft choice in 1978 (Danny Fulton), a first-round draft choice in 1979 (Tom Cousineau), a fourth-round draft choice in 1979 (Ken Johnson), and a second-round draft choice in 1980 (Joe Cribbs).
If Chuck Knox wanted to make sure everyone knew that there was a new sheriff in Buffalo when he took over as coach of the Bills, a big trade proved his point. Knox had come to town after the 1977 season from the Rams to rebuild one of the NFL’s worst franchises.
It took two months to put it together. The San Francisco 49ers wanted to welcome one of that city’s native sons, O.J. Simpson, back home. Simpson had been one of the greatest running backs in NFL history during his time in Buffalo. The highlight came in 1973, when he ran for 2,000 yards. But he was 30 years old at the time of the deal, and that’s not a good age for runners in the NFL.
In hindsight, Knox and the Bills received a big return for Simpson. The 49ers gave up a pile of draft picks for the future Hall of Famer. One of those choices became the first overall, used by the Bills on Tom Cousineau. He’d come in handy in a very unexpected way down the road. As for Simpson, he had two more injury-filled seasons left in him before retirement.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)