When I was playing "kill the man with the ball" as a kid in the 48219, I had earned a reputation as the "Earl Campbell of the block", as I was difficult to bring down as well as for breaking tackles. And while it may not seem so, I used to be very fast and had as good as necessary breakaway speed for pick-up games. Though I have no clear recollection of any of his helmet-rattling runs as either a college or pro, I do know that Earl Campbell was load to bring down.
Sports Illustrated recently ran a "Where Are They Now" issue in which they catch up with former athletes who graced the "Faces in the Crowd" section of the magazine. The stories are of human interest and always profound, as you find out what life has been like away from, or because of, their moment in the sun.
Thomas mentioned that he had seen Earl Campbell around his part of Texas and I thought I would like to share this story with him. There are two particular poignant scenes, one of which I will share and the other is just for me and Thomas to have. The one I will share is the point where Earl meets his then head coach, "Bum" Phillips and the advice he gave him on what to do with his signing bonus. Reading that and then recalling how much affection he showed Campbell during his playing career and how HARD that Campbell played for him really made me feel good about how much playing the game cost Campbell. It is important to know that he was not simply another piece of meat, fodder for the football machine, at least not to O. A. Phillips.
And I guess I will let this much slip... Earl has the same kind of fondness for his football career as I do my boxing. Since I did not know if the link would take any interested parties back to the story, I decided to C & P it, and hope that interested parties would read it in full. It really is a great story and it is more about living than it is about anything else.