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Heisman 1977 Earl Campbell
Photo By Malcolm Emmons- US Presswire

Earl Of Texas

1977 Heisman winner Earl Campbell

To this day, the 1977 Heisman Trophy sits in the house where Ann Campbell lived in Tyler, Texas. It is not the same shack where she raised 11 children -- largely by herself, after her husband died in 1966 -- but it's no more than 50 yards away from that spot. It's the house her son, Earl, built for her with money he made playing professional football. The matriarchal heroine died in August at age 86, a blow to the family. But her house remains in the Campbell clan, and the Heisman will remain there as well. "Ann Campbell was everything to him, everything to that whole family of 11 children," Earl's son, Tyler, said. "His only goal when he had a football in his hands was to be able to spoil Ann Campbell the rest of her life." As Earl put it, he wanted to build that house "so she wouldn't have to look at the stars at night through the holes in the roof." He did his hard-charging best to provide. Campbell defeated tacklers with a ferocity that led Texas to an undefeated regular season and No. 1 ranking, and led him to the first Heisman in the school's gilded history. Then he did it some more in the NFL, becoming one of the league's great backs. The toll taken by Campbell's running style has been considerable. Tyler said his father suffers from arthritis and gout that keeps him out of the family's meat-business offices for most of the winter, when he stays home on the ranch in Tyler instead. Growing up in that rural town in east Texas, Campbell knew about hard work -- he watched his mom work in the rose fields of Tyler for many years -- but little about the Heisman Trophy. It wasn't until Tony Dorsett won the award in 1976, after Earl's junior year at Texas, that he began picturing himself as a potential winner. "He didn't understand what the trophy meant until he walked into the Downtown Athletic Club and saw all the games of players who had won it," Tyler Campbell said. "When he saw those names, he understood." And he understood that the one person on earth who deserved his trophy was his mom.
-- Pat Forde

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