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Big 12’s Greatest NFL Players: Texas


Earl Campbell was one of the most punishing backs to ever play the game.



There are 49 players on current NFL rosters that played their college ball in a burnt orange jersey. Among them are guys like Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson, Chargers corner Quentin Jammer and Miami running back Ricky Williams.


If you’re looking for NFL greatness with a Texas connection then the search won't be very difficult. One of the greatest NFL icons ever hails from the University of Texas. In his playing days Tom Landry was a cornerback for the New York Yankees (1949) and the New York Giants (1950-55). He tallied up 32 career interceptions as a player but his biggest mark on the game would come from the sidelines as a coach.

In 1954 Landry became a player/coach for the Giants and stayed on as the defensive coordinator until 1959. In 1960 Landry was introduced as the new head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and would remain such until 1988. Over the course of his 29-year tenure with the Cowboys he won two Super Bowls (VI/XII), 5 NFC Championships and set a franchise record with 250 career victories. However, this feature is the greatest NFL players and not the greatest NFL icons. While Landry did make the Pro Bowl in 1954 and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he can’t be described as the greatest NFL player from Texas.


After winning the Heisman Trophy at Texas, Earl Campbell was drafted with the first overall pick in the 1978 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. That year he was a Pro Bowl selection and the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He would go on to make four more Pro Bowls and be named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year three times.


Campbell led the NFL in rushing in 1978, 1979 and 1980. The 1980 season was his best as a pro. During that season he carried the ball 373 times for 1,934 yards and scored 13 rushing touchdowns. As the workhorse for the Oilers he broke the 200 yard mark in four different games.


In 6 seasons with the Oilers and 2 for the New Orleans Saints, Earl Campbell rushed for 9,407 yards and 74 touchdowns with a career average of 4.3 yards per attempt. In 1991 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with fellow Texas alum Hank Schramm.