Earl Christian Campbell or popularly known as Earl Campbell was a professional football player who used to be a running back for the New Orleans Saints and Houston Oilers of the NFL. He is known for his punishing and aggressive running style and his ability to break tackles. He is also hailed as one of the best power running backs in NFL history. In this article, we are going to learn more about the career of Earl Campbell and find out why he is one of the greatest football players in the United States.
Earl Campbell was raised alongside his ten siblings in Tyler, Texas. He began to have an interest in football when he was in fifth grade. Campbell started as a kicker, but he later moved on to be a linebacker after witnessing Dick Butkus play. Campbell showed his excellent football skills while he was in high school, that is why he became a heavily recruited football player. He got offers from Arkansas, Houston, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Texas. Campbell ended up choosing Texas and attending the University of Texas, where he could showcase his talent and skills even more. When he was in college, Campbell was able to bag several awards such as the Heisman Memorial Trophy and the Davey O’Brien Memorial Trophy.
During the 1978 NFL draft, The Houston Oilers made Earl Campbell their first overall pick and offered him a six-year contract worth $1.4 million. When he was in college, Campbell weighed about 230 pounds, and he had a massive 36-inch thigh, which is why he was often a punishing runner who needed to be tackled by several defenders to be brought down. During his first year at the NFL, Campbell was named as the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year after he rushed for a league-high of 1,450 yards and helped the Houston Oilers reach the conference championship game.
In 1979 and 1980, Campbell led the NFL in rushing touchdowns and rushing yards, that is why he was hailed as NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1979. On each of his first three seasons in the NFL, Campbell was voted first-team All-Pro; aside from that, he was also named to the Pro Bowl in five of his first six seasons. However, Campbell’s skills and performance began to fall off soon before he was traded to the New Orleans Saints during the mid-season in 1984. Earl Campbell spent one season with the New Orleans Saints before he announced that he would retire from professional football before the pre-season of 1986. Earl Campbell finished his career having carried 2,187 times for 9,407 yards and 74 touchdowns.
Earl Campbell’s professional football career lasted for only eight seasons. After that, he felt severe health issues mainly because of the years of abuse he put his body on during his career. These health issues became well-publicized after his retirement. He stated that he became afflicted by a number of chronic conditions, such as a bad back and severe arthritis. In fact, when he was in his late 40s, Campbell was forced to use a cane to help him walk. Nevertheless, Campbell was still able to manage a successful meat products company while being a special assistant to the athletic director at the University of Texas, after he left the NFL. In 1991, Campbell was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Earl Campbell, nicknamed he Tyler Rose, was called “the one-man demolition team” by his contemporaries. While his football career was short lived, Campbell was considered one of the most revered and outstanding players of his generation.
After retiring from the game, Campbell turned himself to business, operating chains of restaurants in the country. As part of his advocacy, he also launched an awareness drive on multiple sclerosis.
Some interesting facts about Earl Campbell
1. A 9-foot bronze statue of Earl Campbell was unveiled in the southwest corner of Royal-Memorial Stadium in 2006.
2. Earl Campbell ranked number 33 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 greatest football players in 1999.
3. In 1999, Earl Campbell was inducted as one of six charter members into the Titans Hall of Fame.
4. Earl Campbell was the first recipient of the Davey O’Brien Memorial Trophy.
5. Earl Campbell was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 27, 1991.
6. Earl Campbell got hooked to painkillers, OxyContin, which was prescribed for his spinal stenosis in 2009.
7. On September 9, 2006, Earl Campbell was honored at halftime against Ohio State.
8. Earl Campbell was introduced Bum Phillips during an event.
9. Earl Campbell was the first Texas Longhorns football player to have his jersey retired by the University.
10. Earl Campbell is highly regarded as one of the most incredible power running backs in National Football League history.
11. Despite not making it to the All-pro roster, Earl Campbell was invited to his fourth Pro Bowl.
12. Earl Campbell completed 70 yards short of breaking O J Simpson’s single-season rushing yards record, which the latter got in 1973.
13. During Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” defense, Earl Campbell was held to just 15 yards on 17 carries.
14. Earl Campbell completed the year with 643 rushing yards on 158 carries.
15. In 1979, Earl Campbell bagged the AP NFL Most Valuable Player Award.
16. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Earl Campbell became the major player of Houston’s offense.
17. Earl Campbell became the University of Texas’ first winner of the Heisman Memorial Trophy, the most outstanding college player after the season.
18. Earl Campbell went to the University of Texas at Austin.
19. From 1974-1977, Earl Campbell played for the Texas Longhorns college football team.
20. Earl Campbell was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame.
21. Earl Campbell set National Football League records with seven consecutive 100-yard games, 368 carries, and eleven 100-yard rushing games.
22. Earl Campbell was a unanimous All-American player.