JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

“I would do it all again.”

pg2_campbell_195

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.