Woah. I saw this photo for the first time this morning. Knowing nothing about it, I was baffled. OJ Simpson in a no. 32 Chargers jersey, sitting on, what appears to be, a Browns helmet, with a Raiders helmet in the background. So bizarre. The photo screamed Pro Bowl, so I did some digging. Thanks to google, I came across a 2007 article from Paul Lukas at Uni Watch. He was able to get the full story from Tony Phillips, the little boy in the photo with OJ.
“It was in the winter of 1976 and the Pro Bowl at that time was not played in Honolulu. That year it was played in Seattle. Since that’s a poor place to practice in late January, the league arranged to have the players and coaches and their wives spend a week in San Diego in preparation for the game. The Chargers provided the facilities, equipment, and unis. O.J. mostly sat on his helmet [note that it's a red AFC helmet, because regular team helmets weren't worn in the Pro Bowl in those days]. My father was the Director of Player Personnel for the Chargers and I was a proverbial camp rat. If not in school, I was at the stadium or at camp or otherwise busying myself with the football and the world of things thus related.”
So rad. I love sports. I love the internet. I love old photos. I don’t love O.J. Simpson.
[Big thanks to @TheThinGwynn, who provided the photo and @EricStangel, who provided the inspiration for finding the photo. Here's our twitter convo about it.]