Football hero Earl Campbell spoke about his recovery from prescriptive drug addiction at a recent fundraiser for Austin Recovery at the Austin City Limits Moody Theater.

BEVO BEAT Football

Earl Campbell compares current NFL to professional wrestling: ‘It was real football when Jack Tatum and I hit each other’

Posted February 3rd, 2017


Football? Earl Campbell prefers to spend his Sundays watching golf.

The Texas legend is getting some media attention in the build-up to Super Bowl LI in Houston, where he spent the majority of his NFL career playing for the Houston Oilers.

In an interview with USA Today, he compared the modern game to professional wrestling and rattled off the names of pro golfers he watches instead.


RELATED: On Second Thought podcast with Earl Campbell

“And we all know now that we’re grown men that wrestling’s fake,” he said. “Well, football is not played like it was when I played.

“It was real football when Jack Tatum (a Hall of Fame safety for the Oakland Raiders) and I hit each other on the 2-yard line and I backed into the end zone. And after the game I said, ‘Hey, that’s the best I had,’ and he said, ‘That’s the best I had, too, Campbell.’ I mean, that was real football. But now … ”

Campbell went on to lament the excuses he hears from current players, including “I can’t play because my head hurt.”

“That wouldn’t have got the job done back in my day,” he said, although he acknowledged that he is glad the NFL has done more in recent years to educate players about football-related concussions and chronic  traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

RELATED: Earl Campbell reminds you, ‘Don’t mess with Texas’

It is clear the NFL will never go back to the style Campbell prefers. He is unlikely to turn on the TV and see a bruising runner that reminds him of the way he used to play. Campbell knows all about the side effects of that type of play, having dealt with knee replacements, back surgeries and substance abuse.

It’s also clear that he wouldn’t do anything differently, and wishes modern players would take that same mentality.

“It’s great that they’re teaching guys about the CTE and the tackling and all that,” he said. “But to play football you’ve got to be pretty physical. Sometimes I think a lot of guys are getting hurt in the game of football now because they’re trying to remember how not to tackle someone.”

The whole story is certainly worth a read.

And don’t worry, Campbell hasn’t gone all-in on golf. We know how much he loves watching the Longhorns, and his all-day binges watching college football in his “man cave” sound like the stuff of legend.

News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at