Earl Campbell

Class of 1991

Pro Bowls








"I want to make sure my name’s mentioned when they start to call the roll, and I have to work hard to make sure that happens…I have it in my mind that if I work hard, then I shall receive.”

Enshrinement Speech

Career Highlights

Pro Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell wearing number 34 for the Houston Oilers rushing the ballEarl 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.

Born March 29, 1955, in Tyler, Texas, Campbell took the NFL by storm right from the very start. 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 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.

His finest year came in 1980, however, when he rushed for 1,934 yards, which at the time was second only to 0. J. Simpson’s 2003 yards gained in 1973. That year, he gained over 200 yards in four games. In 1981, he won his fourth consecutive AFC rushing title. A sensational runner, Campbell was picked for the Pro Bowl five of his first six NFL seasons.

In his eight-season career, Campbell rushed 2,187 times for 9,407 yards, and 74 touchdowns. He also gained 806 yards on 121 receptions to bring his career combined net yards total to 10,213. 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, the powerful running back 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.

Year Team
1978 Houston
1979 Houston
1980 Houston
1981 Houston
1982 Houston
1983 Houston
1984 Houston/New Orleans
1985 New Orleans
Career Total
Additional Career Statistics: Passing: 3-1-57, 1 TD, 1 Int

Championship Games

1978 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 34, Houston Oilers 5
Campbell started at running back. He carried the ball 22 times for 62 yards and had one reception for four yards. He also fumbled three times.

1979 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Houston Oilers 13
Campbell started at running back. He carried the ball 17 times for 15 yards and had one reception for 11 yards. He also fumbled one time.

All-Pro: 1978 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW), 1979 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW), 1980 (AP, PFWA, NEA, SN, PW)

All-AFC: 1978 (UPI, SN, PW), 1979 (UPI, SN, PW), 1980 (UPI, PW)

All-AFC Second Team: 1981 (UPI)

(5) – 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984

(at time of his retirement following 1985 season)

• [1st] Most 200-Yard Rushing Games, Season – 4 (1980)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Consecutive 200-Yard Rushing Games – 2 (1980)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Consecutive Seasons Leading League, Rushing – 3 (1978-1980)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most 200-Yard Rushing Games, Career – 4
• [Tied for 2nd] Most 100-Yard Rushing Games, Season – 11 (1979)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Consecutive 100-Yard Rushing Games – 7 (1979)
• [3rd] Most Seasons Leading League, Rushing – 3 (1978-1980)
• [3rd] Most Yards Rushing, Season – 1,934 (1980)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Consecutive 100-Yard Rushing Games – 6 (1980)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most 100-Yard Rushing Games, Season – 10 (1980)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Consecutive Seasons, 1,000 or More Yards Rushing – 4 (1978-1981)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Touchdowns Rushing, Season – 19 (1979)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Touchdowns Rushing, Rookie Season – 13 (1978)

Post-Season Records

• [Tied for 2nd] Most Fumbles, Game – 3 (vs. Pittsburgh, 1978 AFC Championship)

Pro Bowl Records

• [Tied for 1st] Most Touchdowns, Career – 3
• [Tied for 1st] Most Touchdowns, Game – 2 (1980)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Points, Career – 18
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Touchdowns, Game – 2
• [3rd] Most Yards Rushing, Career – 220
• [3rd] Highest Average Gain Per Rushing Attempt, Game – 6.90 (1980)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 48

Oilers' records held by Campbell
(Records through the 1984 season, Campbell's last season with Houston)

• [1st] Most Touchdowns, Career – 73
• [1st] Most Touchdowns, Season – 19 (1979)
• [1st] Most Touchdowns Rushing, Career – 73
• [1st] Most Touchdowns Rushing, Season – 19 (1979)
• [1st] Most Touchdowns Rushing, Game – 4 (vs. Miami, Nov. 20, 1978)
• [1st] Most Yards Rushing, Career – 8,574
• [1st] Most Yards Rushing, Season – 1,934 (1980)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 1,979
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 373 (1980)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 39 (vs. Seattle, Oct. 11, 1981)
• [1st] Most Yards Rushing, Rookie Season – 1,450 (1978)
• [1st] Most Combined Net Yards, Career – 9,349
• [2nd] Most Total Points, Career – 438
• [2nd] Highest Rushing Average Per Attempt, Career – 4.33
• [2nd] Longest Rushing Play – 81t (vs. Miami, Nov. 20, 1978)
• [2nd] Most Touchdowns Rushing, Season – 13 (1978, 1980)
• [2nd] Most Yards Rushing, Season – 1,697 (1979)
• [2nd] Most Yards Rushing, Game – 206 (vs. Chicago, Nov. 16, 1960)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 368 (1979)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 38 (vs. Denver, Oct. 12, 1980)
• [2nd] Most Combined Net Yards, Season – 2,038 (1980)
• [3rd] Most Yards Rushing, Season – 1,450 (1978)
• [3rd] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 361 (1981)
• [3rd] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 37 (vs. Cincinnati, Oct. 4, 1981)

Saints’ records held by Campbell
(Records through the 1985 season, Campbell's last season with New Orleans)

• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 35 (at Minnesota, Nov. 24, 1985)

League Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1978, 1979, 1980
Touchdown Titles: 1979

AFC Statistical Championships:
Rushing Titles: 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981
Touchdown Titles: 1979, 1980

Team Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983
Scoring Titles: 1978, 1979

• 1970s All-Decade Team
• 1978 Most Valuable Player (PFWA, NEA)
• 1978 AFC Player of the Year (SN)
• 1978 Offensive Player of the Year (AP, PW, UPI-AFC)
• 1978 Rookie of the Year (PFWA, NEA)
• 1978 AFC Rookie of the Year (UPI, SN)
• 1978 Offensive Rookie of the Year (AP, PW)
• 1979 Most Valuable Player (AP, PFWA, NEA, MX)
• 1979 Offensive Player of the Year (AP, PW)
• 1980 Most Valuable Player (NEA)
• 1980 Offensive Player of the Year (AP)

Year Team W L T Division Finish
1978 Houston Oilers 10 6 0 (2nd)
1979 Houston Oilers 11 5 0 (2nd)
1980 Houston Oilers 11 5 0 (2nd)
1981 Houston Oilers 7 9 1 (2nd)
1982 Houston Oilers 1 8 0 (13th*)
1983 Houston Oilers 2 14 1 (4th)
1984 New Orleans Saints 7 9 0 (3rd)
1985 New Orleans Saints 5 11 1 (3rd)
* NFC regular season finish in strike-shortened season.

Full Name: Earl Christian Campbell

Birthdate: March 29, 1955

Birthplace: Tyler, Texas

High School: John Tyler (Tyler, Texas)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 26, 1991

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 27, 1991

Presenter: Bum Phillips, Campbell’s head coach with Oilers and Saints

Other Members of the Class of 1991: John Hannah, Stan Jones, Tex Schramm, Jan Stenerud

Pro Career: 8 Seasons, 115 Games

Drafted: First round (first player overall) in 1978 by Houston Oilers

Transactions: October 9, 1984 – Campbell traded from Houston Oilers to New Orleans Saints in exchange for No. 1 draft pick, 1985 (11th overall - DB Richard Johnson, Wisconsin).

Uniform Number: #34 with Oilers. (Also wore #35 with Saints).

Earl Campbell Enshrinement Speech 1991

Presenter: Bum Phillips

Thank you very much. If you all were looking into the sun, you would know why I am wearing a hat. I would like to thank the Hall of Fame for giving me a chance to come back up to this part of North Texas; oh it is not. I think there are a whole lot of people who deserve congratulations: the Hall of Fame, the enshrinees, but I want to send a special congratulations to the people of Canton, Ohio, and the State of Ohio for the parade this morning. That was outstanding, that's the best thing I have ever seen. I have had some tough jobs in my life but believe me this is one of the toughest to introduce a guy who made almost 10,000 yards, a guy that has been in every newspaper and been on every TV camera for the last 30 days. A guy who is the best running back that I have ever seen in my life, and they tell me to do it in less than four minutes. Some of his runs lasted that long.

Earl and I have been friends for a long time. He came down, and one thing I appreciated about him was his loyalty. He came down and he was a great hunter, great outdoorsman, great sportsman, and he wanted to go quail hunting. So, I told him, "OK, I'll take you over to my grandpa's place." We get over there and drive up to the ranch house and there is a whole bunch of dogs in the yard. Of course, they knew me but didn't know Earl, and I said, "You are going to have to sit in the car." So I went inside, talked to my grandpa, and he told me where everything was, and I got out and was just getting ready to go out of the house and he said, ''Bum, you do me a favor?'' and I said, ''Yes, sir.''

"On your way in you saw that old white barn down there?" And I said yes, sir, and he said, "That old gray mule standing out there is 29 years old." And he said, "I have raised that thing since she was a baby, and the vet told me I would have to put her down. And she is really in misery, and I don’t have the heart to do it. Would you stop by there and put her out of her misery?" I said, "Yes, sir." So, I get back in the car and we are going down the road and Earl said, "What did he say?" I thought, well I will just kind of mess with him a little bit. I said so and so said we couldn't hunt. Well, he swelled up, he got mad and we're going along there, and we get about even with that mule, and I said. "I tell you what I am going to do, I am going to go shoot his mule." So, I stopped, and I went over there and of course put the mule out of her misery and come back, and no Earl Campbell. About that time, I heard a boom, boom and I look here comes Earl running across the hill and he said, ''Bum, let's get out of here. I got his horse and his dog." If that isn't loyalty, I don't know anything about loyalty.

I would like to take credit for Earl Campbell and for all he has meant to football. But the truth of the matter the credit belongs to the other people that raised him. His junior high school coaches, his college coaches, his mama, Ann, his sisters, his whole family. There the ones who did the job. Believe me, when I got Earl Campbell, he was not only a football player already, he knew how to live on the field and off the field. He is a credit to his family and the people who brought him up. When you draft a guy first pick in the whole country, you better know something about him besides his height, weight and speed. And the way it worked out with Earl, we didn't know we were going to get to trade him, trade for his rights, so I didn't take a whole lot of time studying Earl Campbell. I knew he was the No. 1 pick; I knew he was the best back in the country. But I really didn't study him very much. It may have been about a week before the draft when we got a chance to trade for him. Has my light gone on yet? Anyway, we got a chance to trade for him and got the trade made, but just before we made it, I said I better find out just how good a kid he is, too. So, I called a guy sitting right here in the audience, who I think a lot of, a good amount of, Darrell Royal, and I said, ''Coach, what kind of kid is Earl Campbell?'' And his exact words, and I will never forget them, he said, ''Bum, he ain't got a hole in him nowhere.'' He said, "What you see is what you get." And believe me Darrell Royal, you were right. He ain't got no holes in him nowhere.

I can't help but think back of some of the memories, I know you all are seeing some of the reruns and everything, but when you get my age you do a whole lot more thinking than you do anything else. I shut my eyes sometimes at night, I remember the time we were playing the Rams, Earl starts off to the left cuts up field, hits an All-Pro linebacker, Isiah Robertson, right in the chest, runs over him -- takes that football and holds it out here like loaf of bread, continues to run down the field just troumpin' and mashin' and knockin' people everywhere. And I think about the night we played Miami on Monday night TV, and I think one of the greatest football games. And here is the guy on the 28th carry of the ball game when all we needed was a first down to run the clock out and he runs 81 yards, outruns all the secondary of Miami that puts the game on ice. I think about the Washington game his rookie year. He made the best 9-yard run I've ever seen made in football -- seven people, I don't mean tagged him or grabbed him, I mean hit him and never stopped, just kept twistin' and spinnin'.

Of course, it is something I have seen so many times in film that I wish you all could have seen all the runs this kid has made. I mean some of them are just unbelievable how he could almost go down, put his hand on the ground, spin out, get up, stiff arm, run over two or three people and out run everybody else. I think that is probably the most outstanding thing of Earl Campbell, and I think it separates him from a lot of other people who are dedicated to the game. He is a great running back, everybody knows that, but he is also a great team player. I can remember Earl staying out late after practicing his rookie year because he took a lot of pride in the fact that he was not going to let Pasterini get hit. If Pasterini got hit, it was going to be because somebody else missed the block. Obviously, Earl in college did not do a whole lot of pass protection, so he took it up and took it on his own shoulders to work hard at it because it meant something to him to take care of his teammates because they're the ones that take care of him.

I can think back about watching it as he signs autographs if he has 10 minutes or an hour; whatever it is every time you see Earl Campbell signing autographs, you'll see him sign it and he'll look up and look you in the eye and he'll laugh and ask you your name, and he will take time with you and make sure that you understand that he is as proud that you asked him as he is to sign it. Believe me, those are the things that I think about Earl Campbell. You all can watch him in the movies; I can watch him in my memory. I have a lot of memories. I have been around a long time. I think about it a lot, and when I stop to think about it, Earl Campbell, you are my greatest memory of all. I would like to introduce to you all, my personal friend, a guy that you are going to get to talk and he won't talk near as long as I did, the Tyler Rose from Tyler, Texas, Earl Christian Campbell.

Earl Campbell

Thank you, all, very much. Bum, I didn't shoot that mule, I didn't have anything to do with that. I will say this to the volunteers as well as with everybody in the Hall of Fame: I think you have done a great job. What I do in Texas when I run, I get up about 5:30-6 I got a Rottweiler and Labrador retriever, but I can't do that every morning back to back. It's like you can't just go do everything every night, and I am kind of happy that today has come, because the older I get, the late hours bother me. And this Hall of Fame, people, I mean yesterday I said gee, I hadn't showered. That is how serious it has been since I have been here. But it is a pleasure.

I don't know how to stand here and not go back to the first time I remember I started playing organized football for Mamie T. Griffin Elementary School there in Tyler, Texas, and I got bused about 20 miles to school. A guy named Contact Lewis invited me to play flag football, and that was my first time. And there was a guy I wanted to learn so bad from who was a local drinker in our hometown, his name was Bobby Mimms, probably one of the best high school football players they say in Tyler, Texas. So, what I would do on Sunday's after church, I would go down to this sandlot field and this guy was grown and I was a kid, but I wanted to compete against him because everybody said this guy was so good. That guy right there did a lot for me. And there was a guy named Lawrence Foraurik, bless his heart; he is dead and gone now. I went through a period in my life where I wanted to play football and where I wanted to have my rough buddies. And I wanted to be rough, too, but he said it has to be one thing, either you and not your buddies, or you just go with your buddies. That guy helped straighten my life out.

I don't know, everybody has great people in their lives and we all do, but I think since the time I was in the fifth grade all up until now, the one thing I have always had is I have always played on teams with great guys and I love to stand here and name all of their names one by one but there just wouldn't be enough time. Every team I ever played on I have always tried to share with the guys that I played with. And I think if any of them ever had anything to say about Earl Campbell, they would say, "He is a giver, not a taker." And there goes my mother, Mrs. Ann Campbell. I was listening to her coming back from the Hall the other day going to the hotel. She has seven boys and four girls, and I am No. 6 in the family. I said, "Everything is great. It is amazing how God blesses you." She said, "Yes. I remember one Sunday morning I was getting you dressed for church, and I told your daddy, 'I will never get to go anywhere; I will never get a chance to see anything.'"' He said, ''Darling, you ought to be careful because you never know what God has in store for you.'' She said, ''Who thought I would be here in Canton, Ohio?'' I never thought I would be here, mama, but I am happy you are here.

The other morning I was jogging and I got to thinking what I really wanted to write down and what I really wanted to say, and I might as well be honest. I said, "Earl, stop fooling yourself. You were a speech major in college, but you never really wrote a speech. Just get up there and talk it off the tilt." But the more and more I tried to write a speech, the one thing about this day beyond football, is that my daddy, B.C. Campbell, is up there in heaven, I believe, with all his buddies, and he is telling them what a great son he had. "Look at my son." I know he's proud, and thank you very much for everything.

And every day is not a great day in my life. I mean I am like everybody else; I work hard, and that is all I ever do. I got a lady that has been with me 21, I mean, 24 years, if I am right. You stay with them so long you kind of forget it. If it was me, some days I would have said, "Earl, I am through with you, son." But she reminds me of a song that Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard wrote called ''Old, Tougher than Leather.'' That is my wife, Renua. I got two little boys, and when one of them was born I wanted to give him a double dose of ''make sure you never forget where you come from." When I had my first son -- stand up son -- his name is Earl Christian Campbell. This other kid here belongs to my wife, his name is Tyler Christian Campbell.

There is no place like this. I've never been no place else, but I have heard talk about it. But I am so proud to be an American. I am so proud of being in the Hall of Fame with the Jim Browns, the Franco Harrises, and someday I am sure the Walter Paytons and (Tony) Dorsetts. But when they say "Campbell," I want you all to remember this: The old boy gave it his all. "Fuller from my memories" as Willie Nelson would say. Thank you.