The court of public opinion is bitterly divided on the ultimate place Orenthal James Simpson deserves in history, but, more than two decades earlier than the events that brought him notoriety, the thousands of fans who huddle in an icy Shea Stadium and millions more watching on television are in no doubt about greatness of the Buffalo Bills running back. Simpson, needing just 61 yards to surpass Jim Brown's 10-year-old National Football League single-season rushing record of 1,863, passes that mark when he runs for six yards just 10 minutes and 34 seconds into the game against the New York Jets. After a brief celebration, The Juice, as he his known, sets his sights on the magical 2,000-yard plateau, a barrier once beyond the comprehension of football fans. The Bills, having built up a considerable lead over the struggling Jets, spend the second half of the game trying to get Simpson his yardage. The former Southern Cal star and Heisman Trophy winner brings his total to 2,003 when he runs seven yards with just over six minutes remaining on the clock. He is carried off the field shoulder-high by his teammates (pictured) and remains on the sidelines for the rest of the game, but his job is done and his place in the lore of the game assured. Simpson remembers: 'I was in the locker room all by myself right before the game ended. I started walking around thinking how I couldn't wish to do anything more or be anyone else. I was part of the history of the game. If I did nothing else in my life, I'd made my mark.' The Juice predicts his record will fall some day. It does - in 1984, when Eric Dickerson gains 2,105 yards for the Los Angeles Rams. But Simpson remains the only running back in NFL history to better 2,000 yards in 14 games. A life of splendour seems assured and Simpson makes the most of his high public profile after his playing days. He becomes a popular television sports commentator and part time actor, but his life is destined to fall apart. On June 12, 1994, his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, are brutally murdered in Los Angeles. Simpson is charged with both murders. He pleads, 'Absolutely, positively, 100 per cent not guilty'. On October 3, 1995, he is acquitted. However, in a civil wrongful-death trial, Simpson is found liable for the deaths of Brown and Goldman. In February 1997 the jury orders Simpson to pay US$33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. 'I was part of the history of the game. If I did nothing else in my life, I'd made my mark'