“I would do it all again.”

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When I was a kid, there was no better NFL player than Earl Campbell.

The Tyler Rose was an absolute beast, and if you know not whereof I speak, I strongly encourage you to check out this video. When the Houston Oilers were rolling, coach Bum Phillips would hand the ball to Campbell 25-to-40 times per game and just smile as he run over defenders and chugged his way into the end zone. Again, Campbell was fantastic.

That said, today Earl Campbell often uses a wheelchair to get around. Thanks to the pounding that is NFL life, 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. At one point he had surgery to remove three large bone spurs.

I recently mentioned Campbell’s plight to one of his former teammates; asked him whether he thought eight years of NFL glory is worth a lifetime of pain. His response: “Absolutely.”

Personally, I think that’s insane. I loved my four years at the University of Delaware. Loved them. However, were you to give me the choice of Delaware vs. Knees, I take my knees every single time. I think most people do, too.

Either way, I feel terrible for Campbell.

3 thoughts on ““I would do it all again.””

  1. My guess is Mr. Campbell is in good spirits despite his struggles. I had the privilege of meeting the man after a preseason game in Tampa during his heyday. I was in my early 20’s and had scored press credentials via a friend that had a contact within the Buccaneer’s organization. I was stupidly strolling around the Houston Oilers locker room after the game with my 35mm camera when I came upon Campbell being interviewed by a TV reporter. He was sitting on a table dressed only in a towel. Campbell took notice of me readying my camera to take his picture then politely signaled me to put it down. I obliged him then patiently waited for the interview to end.

    After the interview I approached him to let him know that I hadn’t taken a photo, and that if I had it would have been a head-to-neck shot. I then offered to give him my roll of film. He declined my offer then agreed to autograph a can of Skoal tobacco that I had brought with me. (He promoted the product at the time) He even asked if I had an open can he could grab a pinch from!

    What a class act. Campbell was a big a star that could have berated me then had me removed from the locker room. Instead he was polite and trusted me. I can’t think of any better qualities in a person.

  2. Very sad that Earl Campbell has a hard time getting around. I had the pleasure of meeting him when he played for the Oilers. He was a true gentleman and a real good person.

  3. I work in downtown Austin. Earl still has a business office down here. Nicest guy in the world, but it’s tough to see him now. He’s 55, going on 85.

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