I followed O.J. Simpson's career even back in the days when he was a star running back at USC.  I watched every game he played as a Buffalo Bill and watched him become a pitchman for Hertz, Chevrolet and RC Cola.

Just as most Americans were, I was mesmerized through the dark days of his 1995 murder trial and the recently concluded FX mini-series "American Crime Story: the People VS. O.J. Simpson".  So I wondered how much more could I possibly learn about O.J.

On Saturday night, ABC premiered the first part of the ESPN 30 by 30 documentary "O.J.: Made In America" and I learned some things I never knew including a surprising one about O.J.'s father.  Part 1 sets the stage for the emergence of O.J. as a superstar not only on the football field but in advertising, broadcasting and even Hollywood. It sets it against the backdrop of what was going on in America in the late 1960s and through the 1970s.

O.J. never thought of himself as a black man and many in the black community criticized him for it.  He thought of himself as just O.J. and many in the white community thought the same thing. They didn't see him as black, they saw him as O.J.  And for the first time in America that attitude led to his emergence as a media star.

Part 1 spends about a half hour covering his days with the Buffalo Bills, and it doesn't make Buffalo look very good.  It portrays the city as a frozen tundra comparing it with Siberia.  O.J. had some rough early years with the Bills but the hiring of Lou Saban changed all that and led to his record-setting 2,003 yard season in 1973.

Among those interviewed during the documentary are former Bills Joe Delamielleure, Booker Edgerson and Earl Edwards who provide some insight into those days with the Bills.

The rest of the documentary will be broadcast on ESPN including a repeat of Part 1 on Tueday night at 7 pm followed by Part 2 at 9 pm.  Part 3 will premier on Wednesday, Part 4 on Friday and Part 5 on Saturday all at 9 pm.

 

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:15529273