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.