I don't know a ton about Earl Campbell other than the little I've read and heard about him as well as what I've been able to glean through the fantastic NFL Films footage of him shoving people out of his way as he high steps through helpless defenders and mercilessly drops his shoulder on d-backs while destroying everyone in his path with his violent and reckless running style. What I have learned is that he was perhaps the single greatest running back recruit to ever come out of the Texas high school system (Barry Switzer said Campbell could have come out of high school and dominated the NFL immediately), then dominated at U of Texas (winning a Heisman Trophy) and then stormed into the NFL with the same abandon and ran away (pun) with the NFL Rookie of The Year trophy an Offensive MVP and a Pro Bowl selection in his first year, 1978. Campbell would make the Pro Bowl 4 more times over the next five years, win a couple more offensive MVPs and leave dozens of defensive players in his wake as he brutalized the league and put up huge numbers despite constant 8 and 10 man fronts game in and game out. By 1984, Campbell was severely limited due to injury and by 1985 he was out of the game. He ended up playing 5 full seasons and 3 other partial seasons. When healthy he was one of the best to ever suit up because of his reckless style and competitive drive. But because of his competitive drive and reckless style, Earl Campbell left the game at 28 years-old never to return the same. Dwyane Wade turns 26 next week and if he keeps up his current injury pace, Wade might not even make it til 28.
The reason Dwyane Wade is great is the same reason Earl Campbell was: he has no fear. He attacks the rim as if there is no one standing in his way, let alone at least two guys with 80lbs and 8 inches on him. He gets to the line 10 times a game and has consistently been in the top 5 for that category over his career. But it's this passion for getting to the rim and getting fouled that has kept him from ever playing a full 82 game season and this season will be the third in a 5 year career in which Wade won't play in 75% of his team's games. He's got a bum knee, a tweaked elbow, a bad ankle, a fucked up finger and today we learned that Wade's shoulder "was dislocated to an extreme extent, and that Wade also suffered serious nerve damage." The kid hasn't played 300 games yet and he's had multiple surgeries and is icing his back every night like Larry Bird did on his death bed final two seasons. History has shown time and again that this constant beating will catch up to him, and quickly (see Campbell).
The bottom line is that he can't continue on like this. He just won't make it. It's unsettling if not borderline tragic that one of the league's top talents is destroying himself before our very eyes and no one is teaching him how to stop or slow down. He's gotta learn to play like the old school guys who turned it on only when the national TV lights were showing or in the home stretch of the last 30 games or so. Miami is not even close to contending for the playoffs right now. He should just relax and wait for the trading deadline to see what direction the Heat are going in this year. It would be one thing to kill himself to sneak into the playoffs with the 8th seed, it would be a hole 'nother ballgame to kill himself only to see Shaq get traded, Riley to "get sick" and watch the season go down the tubes in favor of a much needed rebuilding.
We love your enthusiasm, Dwee-Ane. But we'd like to see you ambulate past 2010.