October 4, 2012

MVP Profile: Earl Campbell, 1979


Running Back, Houston Oilers



Age: 24
2nd season in pro football & with Oilers
College: Texas
Height: 5’11”  Weight: 224

Prelude:
Following an outstanding college career that was capped by rushing for 1744 yards and winning the Heisman Trophy in 1977, Campbell was the first overall pick by the Oilers in the 1978 NFL draft (Houston traded with Tampa Bay for the top choice). He moved directly into the starting lineup with outstanding results, leading the league in rushing (1450 yards), gaining consensus first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors, as well as Rookie of the Year and MVP recognition (Pro Football Writers, NEA).

1979 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 368 [2]
Most attempts, game - 34 (for 158 yds.) at Cincinnati 9/23
Yards – 1697 [1]
Most yards, game – 195 yards (on 33 carries) at Dallas 11/22
Average gain – 4.6 [12]
TDs – 19 [1]
100-yard rushing games - 11

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 16
Most receptions, game – 6 (for 34 yds.) at Cleveland 12/2
Yards – 94
Most yards, game - 47 (on 2 catches) vs. St. Louis 10/7
Average gain – 5.9
TDs – 0

All-Purpose yards – 1791 [5]

Scoring
TDs – 19 [1]
Points – 114 [2, tied with Mark Moseley]

Postseason: 2 G
Rushing attempts – 33
Most rushing attempts, game - 17 at Pittsburgh, AFC Championship
Rushing yards – 65
Most rushing yards, game - 50 vs. Denver, AFC Wild Card playoff
Average gain rushing – 2.0
Rushing TDs – 1

Pass receptions – 2
Most pass receptions, game - 1 vs. Denver, AFC Wild Card playoff, at Pittsburgh, AFC Championship
Pass receiving yards - 18
Most pass receiving yards, game - 11 at Pittsburgh, AFC Championship
Average yards per reception – 9.0
Pass Receiving TDs – 0

One playoff game missed due to injury

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: AP, PFWA, NEA, Bert Bell Award
NFL Offensive Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly
1st team All-AFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Oilers went 11-5 to finish second in the AFC Central and qualify for the playoffs as a Wild Card. Won Wild Card playoff over Denver Broncos (13-7) and Divisional playoff over San Diego Chargers (17-14). Lost AFC Championship to Pittsburgh Steelers (27-13).

Aftermath:
Campbell led the NFL in rushing for a third consecutive year in 1980 (1934 yards), received MVP/Player of the Year recognition once more, and was a consensus first-team All-NFL selection. He was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons, through 1981, when he led the AFC with 1376 yards. After one more 1000-yard rushing season in 1983 (1301 yards), his heavy workload and physically-punishing running style caused his performance to drop significantly in ’84 and Campbell was traded to New Orleans during the season. He finished his career in 1985, rushing for 643 yards and a 4.1-yard average for the Saints. Campbell retired with 9407 rushing yards on 2187 carries and 81 touchdowns. His #34 was retired by the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1991.

--

MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). 

[Updated 2/6/14]