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Ottis Jerome Anderson

Ottis Jerome Anderson

Ottis "O.J." Anderson, 1980.
Photo by Roy Erickson

Ottis Jerome Anderson (1957- ) was born in West Palm Beach, where he dominated the football team at Forest Hill High School in the early 1970s. Anderson has attributed his passion for the game to his late brother, Marvin “Smoke” Anderson, a star athlete at all-black Roosevelt High who died in college.

At the University of Miami from 1975-79, Anderson earned a degree in Physical Education on a full athletic scholarship. He was the first Miami player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in one season, a record he held for 24 years. The Sporting News and the American Football Coaches named him First Team All-American.

The St. Louis Cardinals chose Anderson in the first round of the 1979 NFL Draft. He became the first rookie running back to average 100 yards per game and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, NFL Rookie of the Year, and All-Pro; he earned All-Pro again in 1980 and 1981.

The New York Giants traded for Anderson in October of 1986. Later that season, he scored the final touchdown in the Giants’ Super Bowl XXI victory. Anderson became the Giants’ starting running back the following season, scoring three rushing touchdowns in a single game. In 1989 Pro Football Weekly and Football Digest named him NFL Comeback Player of the Year. A year later, at age 34, Anderson became the oldest Super Bowl MVP in history in Super Bowl XXV. He earned a place in the NFL’s 10,000 Yard Club, and was named to the All-Madden Team.

Anderson retired after the 1992 season. He runs the NFL alumni chapter for the New York-New Jersey area, but has returned to appear at NFL Skills Camp for youths in Riviera Beach. Anderson was inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.

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