The hit came on Campbell's fourth carry of the game. Big Earl isn't the center of attention at parties or holding court at country music shows in Austin anymore. I went and got help for that and I'm not ashamed of it.". You know, like, Earl Campbell played.". "Texas took me and put 30-40 more pounds of muscle and had me running 21 miles an hour at 260. In his first three years, he became the first NFL running back other than his hero, Jim Brown, to lead the NFL in rushing for three straight seasons, being named first-team All-Pro each year. pic.twitter.com/O9goi6mEeJ, RELATED: University of Texas Longhorn Athletes Demand Dumping School Song and Renaming Campus Buildings. "I'm not in none of that pain," Campbell said. That’s a severe whiplash, which can cause spinal cord injury, especially with spinal stenosis.”. "Jack was the type of guy who was very smart," Brown said. But even the general doctors on the sidelines and the trainers are much more attuned to that, where they would probably keep the player off the field after that play for further evaluation.". I still wonder if former Oakland Raiders great Jack Tatum really wanted to kill opposing offensive players. John David Tatum (November 18, 1948 – July 27, 2010) was an American football safety who played 10 seasons from 1971 through 1980 for the Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers in the National Football League (NFL). There was good reason for him to be so miserable.". He was 61. You can see Tatum's greatest hits on Earl Campbell, Sammy White and Riley Odoms on YouTube, but the one that pro football still wishes would go away is … I travel. After a family intervention, Campbell checked into rehab. But at Texas, during workouts, he described feeling the same tingling sensation, which medical staff immediately recognized as the classic symptoms of a stinger, a spinal cord injury. jack tatum hits earl campbell. The big running back won the battle, an oft-cited, celebrated moment of Campbell's superhuman strength. He played seven more games that season, saying he felt fine. With the medical technology available at the time, there certainly weren't any reasons to suspect any physical imperfections for Campbell. What he found, starting with several tests by a spinal surgeon in 1999, went much deeper. (0:47). “The lick I took from Jack Tatum, that’s the only time I ever felt somebody hit me,” Campbell told ESPN. Christian and Tyler were scared to have the conversation with their dad, worried it would affect their relationship. "It is terrifying," Jones said. From 1999 to 2008, he had five different back surgeries. Where to vote. "If I got hit a certain way and something tapped my diaphragm, I could just stop breathing and die, on the field," Floyd said. Earl probably had a contusion of the spinal cord at that time, which would explain the burning. He realized that they were right, so he spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's in a rehab facility, suffering from tremors and cold sweats from the withdrawal. 6 linebacker in the country. Any defender who decided to tackle him did so at their own risk. He escaped a horrible possible situation.". Tatum, who was known for his devastating hits, including one a year earlier that ended the career of Darryl Stingley and left him paralyzed, delivered a blow to Campbell that he never saw coming. 6 – Earl Campbell Headbutts Jack Lambert Into Next Week! I felt nearly invincible," Floyd said. "What happened over time is everybody just thinks I had football injuries," says Campbell, who turned 65 in March. He said this hit, by Jack Tatum in 1979, sent a shock down his legs. Another Big 12 team makes Bottom 10's latest list, The 150 greatest players in college football's 150-year history. Campbell has talked about this hit often as an example of the physicality of football. he said. We know how you play and do what you do,'" Floyd said. Sam Ehlinger and Texas Longhorns Have Confirmed Fans’ Worst Fears, University of Texas Longhorn Athletes Demand Dumping School Song and Renaming Campus Buildings, Vince Young Once Bought Every Seat on a Southwest Flight Just to Travel Alone. "Earl don't get up" because he couldn't. He led the NFL all three seasons in rushing, his high mark coming in 1980 when he rushed for a staggering 1,934 yards. He is a proud member of Alcoholics Anonymous, even going to meetings in Times Square during his trip for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. As Stingley reached for a pass, Tatum's helmet slammed into his shoulder pad. "At least Earl Campbell can walk," he said, although his balance is a problem from the surgeries. Campbell now speaks openly about the dangers of painkillers and his addiction. "Even if I would've known, I would've been truly completely happy playing. You don't even have to look elsewhere to consider how Campbell's condition might have been handled today. Off the field, he wore Wranglers and giant belt buckles and did Skoal commercials. He says he would've listened, knowing what he knows now and understands the sense of loss Floyd must be feeling. "They look at me and they think, 'Oh, poor Earl.' I never dreamed about all this s--- about my spine, and cutting bone spurs the size of your thumb off my back. Earl probably had a contusion of the spinal cord at that time, which would explain the burning. In 2008, Campbell’s former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips introduced him to his own spinal doctor, Stan Jones, who removed much of the hardware inserted in the previous surgeries that had become loose and caused pain touching his nerves. Next thing I know, I was in so much pain.". Then Carpenter goes in motion, but for some reason he keeps running to the sideline. "Dr. Jones took that away from me and I learned how to live my life without drugs and alcohol and pain pills. Campbell never saw Tatum, who was obscured by his linemen and arrived at full speed, meeting him at the goal line with the crown of his helmet delivering a brutal blow right under Campbell's chin. Floyd was told by doctors that his injury was connected to his diaphragm. "Most of the people playing against him were worried about getting hurt, him running over them," Wade Phillips said. “Well, football is not played like it was when I played,” Campbell told USA Today. Jack Tatum, the storied Oakland Raiders safety best known for landing the hit that paralyzed New England receiver Darryl Stingley, has died. Jack Tatum, the All-Pro safety for the Oakland Raiders best known for his hit that paralyzed Darryl Stingley in an NFL preseason game in 1978 died on July 27. Despite the dire warnings, Floyd begged to keep playing but finally had to relent. He finished with 32 rushes for 107 yards. In 1980, Houston equipment manufacturer Byron Donzis, who invented the quarterback "flak" jacket, spoke of the challenges of outfitting Campbell's massive 34½-inch thighs. He retired from football last December before ever playing a game for the Longhorns. I can't do anything.'". Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference. But during his senior year of high school in California, Floyd was having the game of his life with more than 30 tackles when he collided with an offensive lineman, pinning his chin against his chest. EC: I think one game we played the Oakland Raiders and Jack Tatum and I had an accident on the one-yard line. After a decade-plus, it's still taking time for us to really get to know him again.". In 1979, Campbell was on the receiving end of a hit from Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum and it was the first indication something was seriously wrong. And with every standard physical, Campbell said, everything checked out. 55 overall recruit in the ESPN 300 and the No. In 1999, he was diagnosed with a spinal condition where doctors said it’s a miracle he was never paralyzed during his playing days, and by today’s medical standards, he would have never been allowed to play the game. These hard football hits have become legendary in NFL lore, and the tacklers who delivered them are remembered as some of the scariest men in the sport of football. "God forbid I died," he said as he voice trails off. "It's really dangerous. Floyd was immediately held out of spring practice. Tatum, who lost his left leg because of circulation problems, began a charitable group to help kids with diabetes and helped raise more than $1.4 million to fight the disease in the Columbus, Ohio area. "I know you were this great athlete that everybody knows -- Heisman Trophy winner, all this stuff -- but you probably should've never played football," Campbell said the doctor told him. Dr. Mark Spoonamore, who works with college and pro athletes at the USC Spine Center in Los Angeles, said Campbell's back condition was more dangerous for him than most anyone else who might have played with stenosis. He was shocked by Bum's question to the coaches and scouts the first time they met to discuss potential prospects. He was 61. However, those violent collisions that Campbell invited and became a trademark of his career came with a price. He was popularly known as "The Assassin" because of his playing style.Tatum was voted to three consecutive Pro Bowls (1973–1975) and was a member of one … He didn't start at running back until his senior year, yet averaged 225 yards per game in leading the school to the 1973 state championship. "The amazing thing to me about Earl Campbell, this exceptional athlete I'm looking at, is that you weren't paralyzed.". "Small, medium, large and Earl Campbell.". For him, it's just one more instance where Campbell might have been sidelined. Still, he has regrets. Campbell grew up poor as one of 11 siblings who all worked the rose fields in Tyler by day. “It was real football when Jack Tatum and I hit each other on the 2-yard line and I … He was Offensive Player of the Year as a rookie and the NFL MVP in his second season. '”, RELATED: Vince Young Once Bought Every Seat on a Southwest Flight Just to Travel Alone. RELATED: Sam Ehlinger and Texas Longhorns Have Confirmed Fans’ Worst Fears. There was the 104-yard interception return against the Green Bay Packers and the goal-line hit on Earl Campbell. Oilers offensive coordinator King Hill, himself a former No. Yet this year, he is deliberative as he relishes the biggest honor of a football life filled with so many of them. The turf was the place that changed his life. Similarly, our understanding of Campbell's story is changing. That's a severe whiplash, which can cause spinal cord injury, especially with spinal stenosis.". It sure looked like it. 4 1 of 4 Jack Tatum of the Oakland Raider circa 1980. But amid a conversation about social justice led by Texas players on campus following George Floyd's death in police custody in Minneapolis, Jamail's three sons asked the university to remove their late father's name and replace it with the names of the two Longhorns legends, replacing a wealthy booster's name with two of the most prominent Black athletes in school history. "He pulled it together and went and got the help that he needed.". Campbell underwent the first of five back surgeries in 1999. Huge Earl Campbell running full speed, turning the corner 1 yard away from the endzone, head down, shoulders parallel to the ground ready to bulldoze anyone in his way. In 1977, his senior season, he averaged 6.5 yards, gained 1,744 yards, and won the first Heisman Trophy in Texas football history. Hell, I didn't know no better, I thought you go to a doctor and that's somebody that's gonna save your life. He remains on scholarship at Texas but is continuing life as a student, pursuing a career in music. In the late 1990s, at a benefit 30 miles away from his East Texas hometown of Tyler, Earl Campbell sat at a table while the party's host, a colorful businessman and one of Campbell's best friends, summoned sheepish onlookers to come say hello to the legend. It is remarkable for several reasons. "But, I mean, playing ball ...". After years of playing the game like a battering ram, Earl Campbell was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, the same injury that ended Michael Irvin’s career. Discover (and save!) Earl was furious. Look at Tatum hit Earl Campbell, who falls like Ali to Holmes, on the goal line. He followed that by running for 1,934 yards in 1980, averaging 5.2 yards per carry despite being a marked man by every defense. Fortunately, the surgery performed by Jones was the Hall of Famer’s last. But years later, he would discover through a decades-long medical odyssey, that was only part of the story. There, Jones was surprised to see the man who had captivated the city with the Oilers arrive in a wheelchair. He might have just escaped that one fateful blow. “It is terrifying. Texas didn't know. Here’s a look back at Earl Campbell’s legendary career and how it was always one play away from ending tragically. Earl Campbell was one of the most feared running backs in college with the Texas Longhorns and in the NFL with the Houston Oilers. Former Raiders defensive back Jack Tatum may have died Tuesday at the age of 61, but he leaves behind a highlight reel of hits and a … Jack Tatum's highlight reel of NFL hits is a collection of humorless carnage. "Earl don't get up.". Earl Campbell is on Facebook. In 1979, Campbell was on the receiving end of a hit from Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum and it was the first indication something was seriously wrong. Dec 6, 2015 - This Pin was discovered by Ken. It's the same diagnosis that caused Michael Irvin to retire midseason and caused Cooper Manning to give up football at Ole Miss before his brothers went on to the NFL. First, for how it happened: The field was previously named for Joe Jamail, a billionaire attorney and Texas mega-booster who was a close friend of Campbell's. Jones enlisted Campbell's sons, Christian and Tyler, to confront him, knowing they had the best chance of getting his ear. I never smoked a joint. In 1978, Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum ended the career of New England Patriots receiver Darryl Stingley in one of the NFL's most tragic injuries. Former Oklahoma University head coach Barry Switzer said in his book that Earl Campbell was a rarity and was good enough to play in the NFL when he arrived at the University of Texas. That's where you're going to meet Jack Tatum.' What he did on the football field is the stuff of legend. As a sophomore at John Tyler High School, Campbell played middle linebacker -- "I wanted to be the Black Dick Butkus," he says now -- and had eight sacks in his first varsity game. And it burned. It's a narrowing of the space inside the spine, leading to pressure on nerves, and causes pain, weakness or numbness. PL: You're known for delivering big hits, but who delivered some big hits to you? The wheelchair suddenly made sense. Texas' doctors did multiple MRIs until they were able to find the exact positioning of his neck, and then they saw it: spinal stenosis. ", "Earl has been very lucky that he didn't have any catastrophes when he was playing," said Dr. Stan Jones, a spinal surgeon in Houston who performed Campbell's fifth, and he hopes, final, back procedure in 2008. That type of hit "describes" football. And even more incredibly, he now realizes it's possible the career that changed the trajectory of his life might not have even happened if he were playing today. "They were trying to save me from possibly harming myself.". Get on over here," he said. He left tacklers and pieces of his tearaway jersey on the field behind him. "It's actually more common for people to get paralyzed or have a bad neck injury because you lower your head and engage the other player that way. "My body felt the greatest I've ever felt.". On doctor’s recommendations, he started taking painkillers. "The person that we'd known, up until that point, he wasn't sober. "Now we're much more attuned to that," he said. Mr. Tatum said he tried to visit Stingley at an Oakland hospital shortly after the hit but was turned away by Stingley's family. The horror! Obviously, it would be a red flag for a football player like Campbell who ran with such brute force that he's celebrated in YouTube videos titled "The Human Wrecking Ball. Campbell learned he had played with spinal stenosis all his life. "The other person had indulged in so much over the years that we always thought that that's who our dad was," Christian said. He finished with 32 rushes for 107 yards.) ... snapped both the tibia and fibula of Theismann’s leg and is remembered by fans of the game as one of the most painful hits in football history. The source of the pain might have been eliminated, but the addiction remained. In July, the University of Texas announced it would immediately change the name of the football field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to Campbell-Williams Field to honor Campbell, who won the 1977 Heisman Trophy, and the Longhorns' other Heisman winner, Ricky Williams (1998). With this revelation, Jones, Campbell's surgeon, went back and watched the play. When I was standing on my head in my end zone, nobody knew this, but I was thinking, 'Something's wrong.'". "We make four sizes of thigh pads," he said. Tatum, who was known for his devastating hits, including one a year earlier that ended the career of Darryl Stingley and left him paralyzed, delivered a blow to Campbell that he never saw coming. Earl Campbell's undiagnosed spinal condition was particularly dangerous for the type of power runner he was. I go places. Campbell inches the glass toward the nuts. He became a two-time All-American for the Longhorns, leading the nation with 1,744 rushing yards as a senior in an undefeated 1977 regular season on his way to winning the Heisman. Campbell didn't do anything to dissuade the notion. I never had experience with cocaine," Campbell said. He's really lucky he was not injured severely with that hit, the way his head snaps back and then the way he falls. Campbell considers it the greatest honor of his career, both because of his love for "The University," as he respectfully calls it, and for his appreciation for Dahr, Randall and Rob Jamail, who Campbell says made a statement that change is possible at Texas, a school that was notoriously slow to integrate both on and off the football field. He is a proud member of Alcoholics Anonymous, even going to meetings in Times Square during his trip for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. After watching Campbell brutalize the Southwest Conference for four years, the Houston Oilers traded up to get the No. Today, he’s a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and speaks candidly about the dangers of painkillers and his own addiction. People really don't know the truth about it.". There was the 104-yard interception return against the Green Bay Packers and the goal-line hit on Earl Campbell. "I started going to these damn doctors," Campbell said. 6 – Earl Campbell Headbutts Jack Lambert Into Next Week! © Copyright 2021 Endgame360 Inc. All Rights Reserved. The self-professed country boy who had avoided the temptations of the 1980s as a football star didn't foresee the danger of prescription painkillers. “It was real football when Jack Tatum (a Hall of Fame safety for the Oakland Raiders) and I hit each other on the 2-yard line and I backed into the end zone. "Well, what are you waiting for? He was 61. During his time in Austin, he averaged 5.8 yards per carry. "He put a hit on me I will never forget. "As bad as it would have been for me not to be an athlete, I think when they tell a young man that they can't do something because of stenosis, I think they should really take a hearing to what the doctors are saying," Campbell said. "Now, I know a little bit about Budweiser and tequila. A year after the Stingley hit, Tatum and Campbell met in the Astrodome in the first quarter of a November game between the Oilers and the Raiders. "That's the worst-case scenario. Christian said nobody knew how serious the addiction was except for the two sons and their mom, Reuna, who hadn't had much luck getting through to her husband on her own. That was the only time Earl Campbell felt somebody hit him, and that hit came from, “The Assassin”, Jack Tatum… (The hit came on Campbell’s fourth carry of the game. Hell, I didn't know no better, I thought you go to a doctor and that's somebody that's gonna save your life. Something like that.". He said this hit, by Jack Tatum in 1979, sent a shock down his legs. 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After the Houston Oilers selected Earl Campbell with the first pick of the 1978 NFL draft, he proved Switzer’s theory right and became a dominant force in the NFL his rookie year, when he rushed for a league-leading 1,450 yards, and scored 13 touchdowns. Campbell has endured great pain since his playing days ended in 1985. Campbell had one doctor from birth to college. He became the most coveted recruit in the country, a mythical, out-of-nowhere phenomenon who former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer famously said was the only high school player he'd ever seen who could've gone straight to the NFL. Join Facebook to connect with Earl Campbell and others you may know. I mean I've gotten cut in my throat. Wade Phillips, then the Oilers' defensive line coach for his father, head coach Bum Phillips, said he hadn't even seen Campbell play yet. Earl Campbell ran from the rose fields of Tyler to become one of the greatest running backs of all time, only to discover that the same body that made him a superhero contained its own kryptonite. Earl Campbell is a hero of Texas football. Tatum, a safety who embodied the Oakland Raiders mystique and was called "The Assassin" for his brutal hits, died of a heart attack at 61. And old Jack says, 'Nah, I ain't fallin' for that.' He endured a series of medical missteps that put him in a wheelchair and led him to a dangerous addiction. He still prefers to be careful and use a scooter or golf cart, "but I still drive a car. 1 overall pick who had worked in pro football for 20 years, stunned Wade again. In 1978, Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum ended the career of New England Patriots receiver Darryl Stingley in one of the NFL's most tragic injuries. Fans would pity him, muttering "Poor Earl," as they tried to reconcile their love of football with Campbell being seen as a cautionary tale of its ravages. Campbell said he followed their advice then, too. Remarkably, he feels better than he has for much of his life, an uncommon case among retired NFL running backs. The other one would just be like paralyzed from the neck down. When Earl Christian Campbell was leaving for Austin, Dr. Earl Christian Kinsey performed his physical. And rightfully so. "Not just myself as a spine specialist. Campbell now speaks openly about the dangers of painkillers and his addiction. "The competitor in him never goes away," Christian said. Campbell had one doctor from birth to college. "He said he couldn't walk," Jones said. Unfortunately, he was addicted to the painkillers. Mr. Tatum grew up in Passaic, N.J., and was a part of the "super sophs" class that led Ohio State to an unbeaten season and the national championship in 1968. "That's essentially a spinal cord inflammation, a transient inflammation usually, where it jolts the spinal cord and it usually happens because you've got some preexisting stenosis and narrowing," Spoonamore said, noting that there are now medical staffers who would check a player after a hit like that rather than just taking their word for it. Campbell wasn't aloof, wasn't too cool to get up, despite the darkened Wayfarers that made him look cool. He took a handoff on the 1-yard line and veered off tackle to the right. "In college and pro football, I never had nothing but a doctor telling me to turn your head to the right and cough," Campbell said. The family that helped pull him back from the brink got a new man in return. Earl Campbell was one total badass-that Ram linebacker he flattened was Isaiah Robertson 230 lbs and ran pro track. So did the constant agitation for painkillers, which he would wash down with Budweiser. When I was standing on my head in my end zone, nobody knew this, but I was thinking, ‘Something’s wrong. "I think if people had known -- the doctors he was seeing at the time and the team doctors -- that he was really significantly stenotic, they wouldn't have let him play. However, what he’s done since might not have garnered as much attention, but it’s more important as it has allowed Campbell to share his story and help change lives in the process. All rights belong to the Tennessee Titans and the National Football League. As time went on and he was out of public view, Campbell broke down. "I said, 'Aw, come on, show me what you can do.' He said this hit, by Jack Tatum in 1979, sent a shock down his legs. He absorbed the blow, stumbled backward and fell into the end zone, rolling over to see Tatum left in his wake. There was the 104-yard interception return against the Green Bay Packers and the goal-line hit on Earl Campbell. Huge Earl Campbell running full speed, turning the corner 1 yard away from the endzone, head down, shoulders parallel to the ground ready to bulldoze anyone in his way. At the Heisman Trophy ceremony, he remained in his seat while his fraternity brothers lined up on stage behind the winner. And by night, they could see the stars through the holes in their roof. Jones performed surgery to insert new rods and remove all the extraneous hardware, much of which had become loose. "I never took pills. "So you can imagine every time he would move, sure enough, it would send him sky-high with pain. your own Pins on Pinterest "[Former Texas defensive coordinator Todd] Orlando told me to my face, 'We're trying to save you from you. This was a time when the NFL didn't stand for "No Fun League." They were giving me pain medication and doctorin' on me and next thing I know I'm hooked.". At Texas football games, he was always in a golf cart or riding on a scooter. He was right, but Campbell waited, and for four seasons, he dominated the SWC. Take a look back at the dominance of Longhorns icon and Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell. In 2008, Bum Phillips, Campbell's old NFL coach and a father figure to him, insisted Campbell come see his own doctor in Houston. pic.twitter.com/O9goi6mEeJ, "The lick I took from Jack Tatum, that's the only time I ever felt somebody hit me," Campbell said. Of Longhorns icon and Hall of Fame running back won the battle, an uncommon among! This hit, by Jack Tatum really wanted to kill opposing offensive players to Campbell himself, which can spinal... Trip for the type of power runner he was technology available at the time, can. Made him look cool Hill, himself a former No, has died played, ” Campbell USA. 'S Jack waiting for me. others you may know riding on a scooter or golf cart riding... Me. been sidelined, ' '' Floyd said, medium, and! 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On doctor ’ s legendary career and how it was always one play from. Found, starting with several tests by a spinal surgeon in 1999, back. '' because he could n't them, '' says Campbell, who like. Took that away from ending tragically think one game we played the Oakland Raider circa.! Screws were much more attuned to that, '' he said this hit often as example... His trip for the Heisman Trophy ceremony four seasons, he is deliberative as he voice trails off drugs 10... Paralyzed and a quadriplegic a series of medical missteps that put him in wheelchair. The battle, an oft-cited, celebrated moment of Campbell 's sons, Christian and Tyler to... Metal rods, along with 12 screws, in his second season as... Begged to keep playing but finally had to relent great pain since playing!