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Pro Football Hall of Fame

Earl Campbell, a 5-11, 232-pound ball-carrying dynamo from the University of Texas, joined the Houston Oilers as the first player taken in the 1978 National Football League Draft. The first player to earn All-Southwest Conference honors four years, Campbell was a consensus All-America and the Heisman Trophy winner in 1977. Campbell took the NFL by storm from the outset. In 1978, he was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player, All-Pro, and Rookie of the Year. He won the league rushing championship with a club-record 1,450 yards and was named to the AFC Pro Bowl squad. It was more of the same the next two years with NFL rushing titles, MVP honors, and consensus All-Pro acclaim each season. He followed his rookie campaign with 1,697 yards in 1979, but his finest year came in 1980 when he rushed for 1,934 yards, which at the time was second only to 0. J. Simpson’s 2,003 yards gained in 1973. That year, Campbell gained over 200 yards in four games. In 1981, he won his fourth straight AFC rushing title with 1,376 yards. A sensational runner, Campbell was picked for the Pro Bowl five of his first six NFL seasons (1978-81, 1983). In his eight-year career, which finished in New Orleans, Campbell rushed 2,187 times for 9,407 yards, and 74 touchdowns, retiring as the NFL’s seventh all-time leading rusher. He also gained 806 yards on 121 receptions to bring his career combined net yards total to 10,213. He set Oilers records for most career yards (8,574), most career attempts (1,979), most touchdown runs (73) and most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (5). His most famous performance came in a Monday night game against Miami in his rookie season. That night, he rushed for 199 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Oilers to a spectacular 35-30 victory. In spite of the constant pounding he took from opposing defenders, Earl missed only six games out of 115 because of injuries. Midway into his seventh season, he was traded by the Oilers to the New Orleans Saints for a first-round draft pick. He played a season and a half with the Saints before retiring after the 1985 campaign. Campbell is one of just four people officially designated a Texas Legend by the Texas State Legislature. The others are Davy Crockett, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin. Campbell was the only designee of the 20th century.

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