If you were a young man who grew up in Texas, there was only one thing that was drilled into your head at a very young age. No matter your physical acumen, character or intelligence quotient, it was football that filled your thought. One dreamed of being a hero and scoring the winning touchdown, from an early age. When I was around nine or ten years old I put my first helmet on and just knew I would be the next Frank Gifford or Lenny Moore, both NFL All-Star running backs. I also had a passion for the University of Texas and all that was associated with that fine residence of higher education, in the great state of Texas. So it should be no surprise that Earl Christian Campbell, “The Tyler Rose” was someone I admired, even though he was five years younger than me.
Earl grew up in Tyler Texas and led the John Tyler High School Lions to the State 4A championship in 1973, which at the time was the largest classification in the state. Earl soon signed with the Longhorns and became my favorite player of all time. Earl was a two time All-Star at The University of Texas, won the Heisman Trophy in 1977 and many more awards. Earl then became the first pick of the 1978 draft by the Houston Oilers. Earl was a five time Pro Bowl selection and MVP Three years, Offensive Player of the Year four times and NFL Rushing Champion three times. In 1991 he was elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, announced in 2012 by the Tyler Chamber and SPORTyler, recognizes the top offensive player in Division 1 football who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity; specifically tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals. In addition, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria: born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas High School and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four year college. The finalists will be selected by broadcasters, commentators, journalists, fans and former winners. The finalists will be brought to Tyler for The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Banquet. “All my life, all I wanted to do was be an athlete. I kept God in my life and surrounded myself with good people. I am humbled by this award named in my honor.” Earl Campbell The first year’s winner was Baylor Quarterback, Bryce Petty. In December of 2014 Trevone Boykin Quarterback at TCU, became the second winner.
Earl has always been a magnificent individual and I have met him several times. Once at Rooster Andrews Sporting Goods in Austin, where he signed three miniature helmets for my three sons. On each helmet he asked me their names, so that they would have a “personalized” helmet. The man has been more than successful in life and still had time to chat with me and talk about our cherished Longhorns. He made me feel like we had known each other for years. I think when they write out the definition of class in the dictionary, it should just say “Earl Campbell”!