June 18, 2011

MVP Profile: Earl Campbell, 1978

Running Back, Houston Oilers

Age: 23
1st season in pro football
College: Texas
Height: 5’11” Weight: 224

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).

1978 Season Summary
Appeared in 15 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 302 [3]
Most attempts, game - 28 (for 199 yds.) vs. Miami 11/20
Yards – 1450 [1]
Most yards, game – 199 yards (on 28 carries) vs. Miami 11/20
Average gain – 4.8 [7]
TDs – 13 [2]
100-yard rushing games - 7

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 12
Most receptions, game – 2 on 5 occasions
Yards – 48
Most yards, game - 15 (on 2 catches) at Kansas City 9/10, vs. Cleveland 11/5
Average gain – 4.0
TDs - 0

TDs – 13 [2, tied with John Jefferson]
Points – 78 [14, tied with John Jefferson]

Postseason: 3 G
Rushing attempts – 75
Most rushing attempts, game - 27 at New England, AFC Divisional playoff
Rushing yards – 264
Most rushing yards, game - 118 at New England, AFC Divisional playoff
Average gain rushing – 3.5
Rushing TDs – 2
100-yard rushing games - 1

Pass receptions – 3
Most pass receptions, game - 1 at Miami, AFC Wild Card playoff, at New England, AFC Divisional playoff, at Pittsburgh, AFC Championship
Pass receiving yards - 27
Most pass receiving yards, game - 13 at Miami, AFC Wild Card playoff
Average yards per reception – 9.0
Pass Receiving TDs - 0

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

Oilers went 10-6 to finish second in the AFC Central and qualify for the postseason as a wild card entry. Won Wild Card playoff over Miami Dolphins (17-9) and Divisional playoff over New England Patriots (31-14). Lost AFC Championship to Pittsburgh Steelers (34-5).

Campbell led the NFL in rushing again in 1979 and ’80 (1697 & 1934 yards), received MVP/Player of the Year recognition in each, 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 2/15/14]