A long line had already formed at Longhorn RV in Garland, Texas. Fans rocking burnt orange and holding their Texas memorabilia watched as the Earl Campbell Sausage bus pulled into an already crowded parking lot. He was a little late, but The Tyler Rose showed up as promised for his free autograph session, promoting the RV dealership.
My dad and I waited for about 45 minutes as the line in front of us got shorter. Campbell was sitting at a table inside his bus signing autographs and chatting with fans. As well as he could, anyway. By the time my dad and I reached him, it was obvious he was having a rough day, seemingly unable to carry on a simple conversation. I can't be sure, but he seemed to be under some pretty powerful medication. I could only assume he was trying to fight back pain. He was just 49 years old.
Earl Campbell, along with Ricky Williams, is my favorite Longhorn of all time. I'm too young to have seen him play at Texas, but I must have seen every piece of film on him available from his college days. He was just awesome. For those of you who were fortunate enough to have experienced his career, I really envy you. So much has been said about his punishing running style and giant heart, which makes it even harder to see him struggling physically at such a young age.
To me, what makes him an untouchable legend is his lifelong commitment to the University, the football program, and to the Austin area. He was unquestionably one of the greatest players in the history of college football and is a fantastic ambassador of the school and Longhorns fans everywhere. I absolutely love having him as a face of the football program.
Happy 56th Birthday to The Tyler Rose! Post your birthday wishes, comments and your own stories/encounters below. Our goal is to get a link to this post on his official Facebook Page: Facebook.com/TheTylerRose.
Oh, and pass the sausage.