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Houston Matters

Biography Celebrates Texas Football Legend Earl Campbell

Journalist Asher Price discusses his new biography, Earl Campbell: Yards After Contact.


Earl Campbell sits on the porch of his family home, near Tyler, Texas in 1979.


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Earl Campbell was a dominant force in American football in the 1970s and 80s and remains one of the all-time greatest players to hail from Texas. And he achieved nearly everything he wanted in football.

Campbell rose from the humblest of beginnings in East Texas, on the outskirts of Tyler, to win a state high school championship.

In college, he won the Heisman trophy while playing for the University of Texas Longhorns.

Earl Campbell runs the ball in a game for the UT Longhorns.

And, with the Houston Oilers, he won rookie of the year and MVP honors while plowing through defenders and claiming rushing titles.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer spent more than six seasons in an Oilers uniform before finishing his career with the Saints. He led the league in rushing his first three seasons and ran for more than a thousand yards in five seasons.

Running back Earl Campbell plays for the Houston Oilers.

But it was as much about how he ran. Not just around defenders — but through them. His style of smash-mouth football was celebrated in the 70s and 80s, and it served him well during his career, only to leave him physically hobbled for the decades following it.

Football legend Earl Campbell works out with Caesar Martinez in 2012 at the Moncrief Neuhaus Athletic Center at the University of Texas.

Journalist Asher Price examines this contrast in his new biography, Earl Campbell: Yards After Contact.

Price sees parallels between Campbell's life and the societal change around him in Texas and writes about how race and social change are an undeniable part of the football legend's life story.

In the audio above, Houston Matters host Craig Cohen talks with Price about the book. Price speaks at a Brazos Bookstore event tonight at 6:30.

Journalist Asher Price is the author of Earl Campbell: Yards After Contact.
Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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