OJ Simpson, one of the greatest running backs of all time, has died at 76. His infamous police chase and murder trial changed the media landscape, and accelerated the obsession with celebrity culture.

Before he was the world’s most infamous murder suspect, OJ Simpson did not have a reputation for killer performances. David Zucker, the director of the 1988 comedy classic The Naked Gun, only hired the Buffalo Bills great for the ironic potential. Which is to say he was a big celebrity who could be had for cheap. Zucker’s hope was that Simpson would prove to be at least as serviceable as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had been in their previous film, Airplane!, which saw the basketball legend lean even further into his acerbic streak. But Simpson proved to be so much more as Detective Nordberg, a Wile E Coyote figure in a live-action cartoon. For those of us born well after Simpson won the 1968 Heisman trophy or became the first player in NFL history to top the 2,000-yard rushing mark in 1973, the ultimate highlight is him as Nordberg creeping on to a houseboat full of heroin pushers and suffering every manner of physical harm before landing face-first into a wedding cake and falling overboard. And just like Wile E, it didn’t matter how many times Nordberg launched down a flight of stairs or folded in half, he always managed to bounce back in time for a sequel film.

Simpson’s knack for not just surviving punishment, but for dusting himself off as if nothing happened, really came through as the years ticked on from the trial of the century.

But of course no one ever completely forgot the extent to which he participated in his repeated self-destruction. When his death from cancer at 76 was announced on Thursday, neither the Bills nor NBC Sports (for whom Simpson had worked as an analyst when he was accused of killing his wife and her friend) offered tributes in kind. The NFL related the news via an AP story. LeBron James and Tom Brady were among the chorus of major sports figures who stayed mum. The White House didn’t have much to say about Simpson’s death either – and after Joe Biden had nothing but warm words in the wake of Henry Kissinger’s passing.