Electric Company (football)

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O.J. Simpson in 1990

The Electric Company was the nickname of the offensive line of the Buffalo Bills during the mid-1970s that helped running back O.J. Simpson establish numerous National Football League (NFL) all-time records and earn numerous statistical titles. The nickname is sometimes more loosely used to refer to the Electric Company Offense for the Bills offensive unit or the Electric Company Buffalo Bills for the teams of this era.

During these years, Simpson established NFL records for single-season rushing yards (1973), single-season yards from scrimmage (1973), single-season rushing yards per game (1973), single-season touchdowns (1975), single-season 200-yard games (1973), consecutive 100-yard games (1972–73), single-game rushing yards (1973 & 1976) and career 200-rushing yard games. His single-season rushing yards per game and career 200-yard rushing games records still stand. Simpson was selected to the Pro Bowl team and as an All-Pro performer each year between 1972 and 1976.[1] He won the rushing title in four of those five seasons.[1] During this time period, Simpson became the only running back to twice have 200-yard rushing efforts in back-to-back games. Simpson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his exploits.

Although the Buffalo Bills had winning records during the 1973, 1974 and 1975 seasons, only the 1974 Buffalo Bills made the NFL playoffs during the 8-team format era.[2] However, in the 1974–75 NFL playoffs they were eliminated by the eventual Super Bowl IX champion 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers.[3]

Members[edit]

Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure played right offensive guard and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the 1975 Buffalo Bills1979 Buffalo Bills (and the 1980 Cleveland Browns) and was All-Pro the first three of those seasons.[4]

College Football Hall of Famer Reggie McKenzie, who was the left guard, was selected to the All-Pro team following the 1973 NFL season and played for the Bills from 1972–1982.[5]

Paul Seymour had been a member of the 1972 College Football All-America Team as an offensive tackle for the Michigan Wolverines after having played two season at tight end.[6] He returned to the tight end position as a professional and became the team's starting tight end for five seasons starting in 1973.[7][8]

Dave Foley started at left tackle during all of Simpson's five consecutive Pro Bowl years and remained with the team through the 1977 season.[9]

Mike Montler started half the games at center in 1973 and remained the starter through the 1976 season.[10] Right tackle Donnie Green was drafted by the Bills in the 1971 NFL Draft and remained with the Bills through 1977.[11]

Lou Saban was coach of the team from 1972 through part of the 1976 season, when he gave way to Jim Ringo who was the offensive line coach for the Bills.[12][13]

Other members of the Electric Company included center Bruce Jarvis who started 8 games in 1973,[14] but suffered a career-ending knee injury that season. During Simpson's first All-Pro season and first rushing title in 1972,[15] before DeLamielleure was drafted in the 1973 NFL Draft, Bob Penchion and Dick Hart were listed at right guard.[16][17] Jan White was listed at tight end before Seymour was drafted in the same 1973 draft.[18] Also in 1972, Remi Prudhomme and John Matlock were listed at center.[19][20] The beginning of the Electric Company era is often considered to be 1973. That year the Bills moved to Rich Stadium and broke a skid of six consecutive losing seasons, and Simpson started breaking records .[21]

When the nickname is expanded to include the whole offense, quarterback Joe Ferguson who was part of the Bills' 1973 NFL Draft class along with DeLamielleure and Seymour is also considered to be a member. Fullback Jim Braxton, who became the starter in 1972,[22] is also mentioned as part of the Electric Company. Even wide receivers Bob Chandler and J.D. Hill are associated with the Electric Company.[23]

Records and titles[edit]

Simpson's single-season rushing yards (2003 set in 1973) and single-season yards from scrimmage (2243 set in 1973) records were eclipsed in Eric Dickerson's 1984 season, but have not been eclipsed on a yards per game basis yet because they were set in 14 games.[24][25] Simpson's 1975 single-seasons touchdowns record (23 set in 14 games) lasted until John Riggins posted 24 in 1983 in 16 games. However, the first person to post more touchdowns per game was Priest Holmes who totaled 27 in 2003.[26] On September 16, 1973, Simpson broke Willie Ellison's 247-yard single game record with a 250-yard effort against the New York Jets.[27] On November 25, 1976, Simpson broke his own single-game rushing yards record by posting 273 yards.[28] Walter Payton then recorded a 275-yard effort less than a year later on November 20, 1977.[27] Simpson's six career 200-yard games remains an NFL record.[29] Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams have also posted back-to-back 200-yard games, but unlike Simpson they each only have done so once.[29] When Simpson rushed for 100 yards in each of the first five games of the 1973 season it gave him seven consecutive 100-yard games, which was an NFL record.[30] That record has been broken several times including back-to-back seasons when Payton took the record to 9 in 1985 and Marcus Allen increased it to 11 in 1986. Finally in 1997, Barry Sanders posted 14 consecutive 100-yard efforts.[29]

O.J. Simpson 200-yard rushing game career log[31]
Date Opp Result Att Yds Y/A TD
September 16, 1973 at New England Patriots W 31-13 29 250 8.62 2
December 9, 1973 New England Patriots W 37-13 22 219 9.95 1
December 16, 1973 at New York Jets W 34-14 34 200 5.88 1
September 28, 1975 at Pittsburgh Steelers W 30-21 28 227 8.11 1
November 25, 1976 at Detroit Lions L 14-27 29 273 9.41 2
December 5, 1976 at Miami Dolphins L 27-45 24 203 8.46 1

Simpson earned the NFL rushing titles in 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1976.[1] He led the league in total touchdowns and total points scored in 1975, and he led in rushing touchdowns in both 1973 and 1975.[1] He led the league in yards from scrimmage in 1973, 1975 and 1976 and in all-purpose yards in 1973 and 1976.[1] Also in 1972, 1973 and 1975 he had the longest run in the NFL for the year, including a career-high 94-yard run in 1972.[1]

Background[edit]

The nickname for the offensive line was a reference to O.J. "Juice" Simpson. The offensive line earned its nickname for its ability to "turn on the juice," which was a metaphor for unleashing Simpson, who at the time was the best running back in the National Football League and the first running back to eclipse 2000 yards' rushing in a single season. Simpson gave the offensive line its nickname.[32]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "O.J. Simpson". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  2. ^ "Buffalo Bills Franchise Encyclopedia". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  3. ^ "1974 NFL Standings, Team & Offensive Statistics". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  4. ^ "Joe DeLamielleure". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  5. ^ "Reggie McKenzie". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  6. ^ "University of Michigan Football All-American: Paul Seymour: Tackle, 1972". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  7. ^ "1973 Buffalo Bills". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  8. ^ "Paul Seymour". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  9. ^ "Dave Foley". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  10. ^ "Mike Montler". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  11. ^ "Donnie Green". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  12. ^ "Jim Ringo, 75; NFL Hall of Famer Helped Packers to Championships". Los Angeles Times. 2007-11-20. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  13. ^ Schudel, Matt (2007-11-22). "NFL's Jim Ringo; Hall of Famer With Packers and Eagles". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  14. ^ "Bruce Jarvis". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  15. ^ "1972 Buffalo Bills". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  16. ^ "Bob Penchion". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  17. ^ "Dick Hart". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  18. ^ "Jan White". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  19. ^ "Remi Prudhomme". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  20. ^ "John Matlock". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  21. ^ Choinski, Bill. "1973 Buffalo Bills - The Birth of the Electric Company". Billszone.com. Retrieved 2010-06-26. [dead link]
  22. ^ "Wayne Patrick, Bills Fullback In Late ’60s, Early ’70s". The Buffalo News. 2010-03-25. Retrieved 2010-06-28. [dead link]
  23. ^ Choinski, Bill. "The Electric Company 1970-1978 Buffalo Bills". Billszone.com. Retrieved 2010-06-26. [dead link]
  24. ^ "NFL Single-Season Yards From Scrimmage Leaders". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  25. ^ "NFL Single-Season Rushing Yards Leaders". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  26. ^ "NFL Single-Season Touchdowns Leaders". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  27. ^ a b "Lewis Rushes For 295 Yards!". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  28. ^ "Thanksgiving Serves Up Classic Games". NFL.com. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  29. ^ a b c "Individual Records: Rushing". NFL Enterprises LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  30. ^ "Bills Can Prove They're For Real Against Miami". Bangor Daily News. 1973-10-19. p. 14. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  31. ^ "O.J. Simpson Career Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  32. ^ Moran, Patrick (2010-06-15). "Top 20 Bills All-Time Draft Picks: Joe DeLamielleure (#8)". Buffalo Sports Daily. Archived from the original on 2010-06-21. Retrieved 2010-06-27.