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Hall of Famer Earl Campbell to have nerve treatment, says it 'came from playing the way I did'

NFL Hall of Famer Earl Campbell said Tuesday he is undergoing nerve treatment after doctors ruled out concerns that he might have Lou Gehrig's disease.

Campbell, 57, will receive treatment and testing in Austin this weekend aimed at trying to "trigger the nerves a little faster," said Tyler Campbell, his son. He said his father was otherwise doing well but acknowledged the process will affect the former Heisman Trophy winner's recent physical rehabilitation to move around quicker.

Earl Campbell, who uses a walker, underwent knee surgery last year and has other health problems from a punishing football career spent as one of the game's great power running backs. He said he suspects the nerve damage was also the result of his playing days.

"I did something to my body to get that, and you know what I did," Earl Campbell said. "I think some of it came from playing football, playing the way I did."

Campbell revealed his upcoming treatment while announcing scholarship winners through his Campbell Project for MS, which raises awareness and funds for multiple sclerosis. Tyler Campbell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007 while playing football at San Diego State.

"It's not that something is horribly wrong with him," Tyler Campbell said of his father. "He's doing awesome."

Earl Campbell said doctors described his nerve problem as "C.O.I.D.P." — perhaps meaning CIDP, or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. According to the National Institutes of Health, the condition is a neurological disorder that can cause gradually declining strength and sensory function in the legs and arms.

Campbell said he recently underwent testing in Houston at the urging of his neurologist. Doctors there diagnosed him with the nerve issue but not Lou Gehrig's disease, which Campbell's neurologist thought was a possibility, according to Campbell.

Lou Gehrig's disease is a fatal degenerative nerve condition.

Campbell spent almost his entire eight years in the NFL with the Houston Oilers before retiring after the 1985 season. His playing days were cut short by the toll of his punishing playing style and, nearly 30 years later, he continues to feel the effects. He does physical therapy work with the football team's strength coaches at Texas, where he was a college star in the 1970s.

When the two scholarship winners Tuesday posed for pictures with Campbell, he slowly rose from his chair after waving off his son's offer to help. Player safety in the NFL and the long-term impact the game leaves on players has taken on heightened exposure in recent years, but Campbell said he believes the league is taking the right steps.

"They are doing a lot of good things in trying to prevent guys from just getting all beat up to where they can't live a productive life," Campbell said.

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Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber