Earl Campbell's 1977 Heisman Trophy

Breaking tackles has its privileges

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by Tom Wancho, Exhibit Planner

The Heisman Trophy is symbolic of the nation's most outstanding college football player. Created by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City, it was awarded for the first time in 1935. The trophy is made of cast bronze and weighs 25 pounds. It is named for John Heisman, a long-time college coach and athletic director.

Earl Campbell became the first University of Texas Longhorn to win the Heisman after leading the nation in rushing and scoring during his 1977 senior season. Campbell was used to dominating the competition. As a high school senior he led John Tyler High School (Tyler, Texas) to the 1973 State AAAA championship, then the largest level of competition in Texas.

During his senior season at UT, despite facing defenses keyed on stopping him, Campbell ran for 1,744 yards and 19 touchdowns, easily outdistancing other Heisman contenders in a nationwide vote of media, collegiate officials, and former Heisman winners. Campbell gave a short speech after winning the award that concluded with the memorable line, "I will represent what a Heisman Trophy winner should be. Thank you very much."

Campbell kept running — into the NFL as the 1978 first overall draft choice of the Houston Oilers. Following his rookie season, in which he was named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year and the league's Most Valuable Player, Oilers head coach Bum Phillips quipped, "I don't know if he's in a class by himself, but I do know that when that class gets together, it sure don't take long to call the roll."

Campbell ran roughshod over opposing defenses during his eight year NFL career, spending all but his last season (New Orleans Saints) with the Oilers. In just 118 games he ran for 9,407 yards and 74 touchdowns. He retired following the 1985 season and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990. One year later, he joined the immortals of professional football with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

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Earl Campbell's 1977 Heisman Trophy Artifact from Austin
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