Earl Campbell, the 1977 Heisman winner from Texas, was the baddest man on the field in his day. If he didn't run you over with his bullish style, then he ran away from you. The only thing that could stop him? Campbell estimates he went through 20 to 25 tearaway jerseys a game at Texas. "I lost more yardage changing into new jerseys than anything else," he said.
Today, Campbell uses a walker. And when that becomes too much work, he uses a wheelchair. This weekend, at a Heisman Winners Association outing in Austin, it took Campbell roughly six minutes to cover 40 yards — a distance he used to breeze through in less than five seconds.
Campbell is not alone. George Rogers, the 1980 Heisman winner from South Carolina, can't raise his right arm higher than his chest. Archie Griffin ('74 and '75, Ohio State) said, "My neck bothers me quite a bit, like every time I turn my head either way." John Huarte ('64, Notre Dame) had a neck twitch that lasted about 19 years. John David Crow ('57, Texas A&M) has had both knees replaced.
Does it seem possible that 50 years have passed since Crow won the award?
"It does sometimes," he said. "When I get up in the morning, sometimes it feels like it's been more than 50 years."
But Campbell's deteriorating condition is most alarming. He stands at a 45-degree angle, unable to straighten at his lower back. He can no longer straighten his knees, either.
"I stay focused and prayerful that I won't have to deal with the situation of Earl Campbell one day," said Eddie George, who won the Heisman at Ohio State in 1995.