October 7, 2013

MVP Profile: Earl Campbell, 1980

Running Back, Houston Oilers



Age: 25
3rd 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, 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). Campbell followed up in 1979 by again topping the NFL in rushing (1697 yards) and touchdowns (19) to again receive consensus MVP, first-team All-Pro, and Pro Bowl honors.

1980 Season Summary
Appeared in 15 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 373 [1]
Most attempts, game - 38 (for 178 yds.) at Kansas City 10/12
Yards – 1934 [1]
Most yards, game – 206 yards (on 31 carries) at Chicago 11/16
Average gain – 5.2 [1]
TDs – 13 [1, tied with Billy Sims]
200-yard rushing games – 4
100-yard rushing games – 10

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 11
Most receptions, game – 4 (for 24 yds.) at Pittsburgh 9/7
Yards – 47
Most yards, game - 24 (on 4 catches) at Pittsburgh 9/7
Average gain – 4.3
TDs – 0

Passing
Pass attempts – 2
Pass completions – 1
Passing yardage – 57
TD passes – 1
Interceptions – 0

All-Purpose yards – 1981 [2]

Scoring
TDs – 13 [2, tied with Curtis Dickey & John Jefferson]
Points – 78 [20, tied with four others]

Postseason: 1 G (AFC Wild Card playoff vs. Oakland)
Rushing attempts – 27
Rushing yards – 91
Average gain rushing – 3.4
Rushing TDs – 1

Pass attempts – 1
Pass completions – 0
Interceptions – 0

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

Oilers went 11-5 to finish second in the AFC Central and qualifying for a Wild Card playoff spot while leading the conference in rushing (2635 yards). Lost AFC Wild Card playoff to Oakland Raiders (27-7).

Aftermath:
Campbell was named to a fourth straight Pro Bowl in 1981 as he led the AFC with 1376 rushing 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.

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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). 

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