His nickname is The Tyler Rose, a reference to his hometown of Tyler, Texas which is known as the "Rose Capital of America" for its prominent place in the rose-growing industry. He went to John Tyler High School.
Also while at the University of Texas, Earl Campbell was chosen as a New Man in the Texas Cowboys student service organization in the mid-70s. The Texas Cowboys are the student organization made up of campus leaders. They are also responsible for taking care of and firing 'Smokey' the Cannon at Texas football games.
Campbell possessed a rare combination of speed and power, and was a prolific running back from 1978 through 1985. His outstanding single-season performance in 1979 earned him All-Pro, Pro Bowl, and NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors. It was also the second of three consecutive seasons in which he led the league in rushing. Only Jim Brown had previously accomplished that feat. Campbell led the NFL in rushing in 1978, 1979, and 1980. He played in five Pro Bowls and finished his career with 9,407 yards and 74 touchdowns rushing along with 806 yards on 121 receptions. In 1980, Campbell's best year in the NFL, he ran for 1,934 yards including four 200-yard rushing games, including a personal best 206 yards against the Chicago Bears. Despite playing against stacked defenses and being gang-tackled nearly every time he carried the ball (a then-record 373 times), Campbell managed to average 5.2 yards per carry and score 13 rushing touchdowns in 1980 alone.
Former Heisman Trophy winner and Miami Dolphins player Ricky Williams ran the 4.4 40 was often compared to Campbell during Williams' days as a player with The University of Texas Longhorns. Even now, short running backs that use powerful legs to their advantage are occasionally nicknamed "Little Earl", for example Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars or most recently to some publicity with Gary Russell of the University of Minnesota.
The pride that prodded Campbell to stretch out every run over eight grueling seasons for the Oilers and New Orleans Saints also might have been responsible for his relatively short career. All of the pounding he absorbed, all of the bone-jarring blows from second, third and fourth tacklers wore down his body and prompted a premature drop-off in performance. Debate still rages as to whether Coach Bum Phillips hastened the end of Campbell's career by overworking him; nevertheless, the consensus is clear that during Campbell's heyday, few running backs were as productive or imposing.
Campbell, The University of Texas’ first Heisman Trophy winner in 1977, was honored at halftime against Ohio State on September 9, 2006 including the unveiling of a 9-foot statue of Campbell in the southwest corner of Royal-Memorial Stadium. The same year, Campbell graced the cover of Dave Campbell's Texas Football, an honor that eluded him during his playing days.
In 1977, he became the first recipient of the Davey O'Brien Memorial Trophy which was named after the great TCU quarterback Davey O'Brien. The trophy was awarded to the most outstanding player in the Southwest Conference.
Due to the countless carries in his NFL career and numerous hits on his body, Campbell has great difficulty walking and sometimes requires the use of a wheelchair. In 2004, ESPN showed a segment about retired and current NFL players who deal with chronic injuries due to playing in the NFL over a number of years. The segment showed Earl Campbell at a farm using a wheelchair. Campbell has developed severe arthritis in his knees and has debilitating back pain. He attributes his back pain to a congenital back condition aggravated by his football career.
A profile in the Austin American-Statesman in December 2007 describes Campbell's daily struggle with his back pain, and states that he had surgery to remove three large bone spurs
Earl is now a prominent businessman residing in Austin, Texas and still actively participates in University of Texas Athletics. Earl Campbell currently serves as President of Earl Campbell Meat Products, Inc. which manufactures and sells Earl Campbell's® Smoked Sausage and other food products and barbecue sauce.
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