Earl Campbell Raises Money To Support Son, Others Battling MS

Former UT running back Earl Campbell is in esteemed company. True, he’s one of only three Heisman winners to have been selected first overall in an NFL draft and be in both the College and NFL Halls of Fame. But he has one more accolade that Paul Hornung and O.J. Simpson can’t claim: he is the first college athlete to be featured with Bugs Bunny and Co. in a piece of art.

The Tyler Rose has joined such single-named athletes as Ali, Jordan, and Gretzky in the elite fraternity of human-Looney relations as part of a fundraising campaign for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“At first, I was like, ‘Aw, man,’” Earl said. “I thought the public would make fun of me. But when I saw the final print, I was amazed.”

The limited-edition lithograph shows Mr. Campbell from his UT days running over Wile E. Coyote and the Tasmanian Devil as Bugs and Yosemite Sam cheer him on. Mr. Campbell says the idea came from a collaboration between Warner Bros. and Mr. Campbell’s youngest son, Tyler. The money raised by the sales of the autographed lithographs will go towards the National MS Society.

But that’s not all the “one-man demolition man” is doing to aid research for MS treatment. Last Saturday, Earl and Tyler hosted a hybrid silent/live auction at the Texas Federation Women’s Club Mansion to raise donations. For Tyler, the raised money has a special meaning.

In 2007, shortly after his junior season as running back at San Diego State, Tyler was diagnosed with MS. Though he was able to play his senior season, his dream of playing in the NFL was dashed. With football out of the scene, Tyler decided to become an ambassador for the National MS Society while also working at Earl Campbell’s Meat Products.

When thinking of ways to raise awareness, Tyler said he went to the Pro Player Foundation, an organization that works with NFL players like Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Tyler and his father had been to some events the foundation had put on in California and came away impressed. He saw that with his dad’s name recognition, they could get more NFL Hall of Famers on board.

“We want to touch as many people and raise as many funds as possible,” Tyler said. “We’re just a family that’s affected like any other family. Dad just happened to be blessed. We want to show proof that any family can do anything if they come together.”

On Saturday, Hall of Famers including Rickey Jackson and Kenny Houston joined Earl and Tyler at the Mansion for the event, which they partnered with Flavors of Austin to sponsor.

When picking a place to host the event, Earl said that they knew Austin had to be it.

“My Hall of Fame brothers all love Austin,” he said. “We wanted something more than a golf tournament so the wives would enjoy it as well.”

Up for auction at the event was a plethora of signed sports memorabilia, including a Nolan Ryan signed Rangers cap and a basketball signed by former UT basketball player D.J. Augustin.

Earl said that more of his Hall of Fame friends have contacted him about doing the event next year, and that most of the former players who attended this year have already begun asking about when next year’s event will take place.

Though the final amount raised is still unknown, Tyler said the auction and lithograph sales have been incredible. (Buy your own at Earl’s website.)

“Above all else, not just because of Dad, but the fact that so many people came in not knowing about MS, it was an uplifting event,” he said. “It’ll help go towards to a cure. We plan on doing it again.”

Maybe next time they can get Bugs and Daffy to tag along, too.

Lithograph courtesy Earl Campbell, Broadman Fine Arts, Warner Bros. and Pro Player Foundation.


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