Earl Campbell, one of the most celebrated football heroes in Texas says football has gotten soft, Josh Peter of USA Today reports.
“Well, football is not played like it was when I played,” Campbell said.
“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 … ”
Shaking his head at the excuses he hears from contemporary NFL players, Campbell said, “I can’t play because I’ve got a hangnail on my toe. I can’t play because I didn’t get a pedicure this week. I don’t play because my head hurt.
“That wouldn’t have got the job done back in my day.”
After his football career, Campbell said, he discovered he suffered from a narrowing of the spine that contributed to his four back surgeries.
“I think if I’d gotten a real physical like they do now, CAT scans and everything, probably I wouldn’t have been able to play,” he said, adding he has no regrets about participating in a sport that has contributed to his using a walker and abusing painkillers. “I’m pretty happy. It don’t take that much to make a guy who don’t wear socks happy.”