It was April 22, 1990 and the Dallas Cowboys were about to make the 17th selection in the NFL Draft after trading up. With their pick they selected running back Emmitt Smith from Florida. The so-called experts called Smith too slow and too small to be a Pro runner. What the Cowboys got was a player that loved the game and played it with heart, determination and a passion that could never be equaled.
Emmitt James Smith III was born in Pensacola, Florida on May 15, 1969. When the Cowboys drafted Emmitt Smith I don’t believe anyone knew what kind of player he would turn out to be. Smith quickly started to make a name for himself in 1990. Smith scored his first rushing touchdown in Week 3 of the 1990 season against the Redskins. He went on to rush for 937 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in his rookie season. That first season was just the start of Emmitt Smith’s amazing NFL career.
What the Cowboys got in Smith was the NFL All-Time leading rusher with 18,355 yards as he played 13 seasons for the Cowboys before being released after the 2002 season. He then played two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before retiring as a Dallas Cowboy in 2005. He is now onto the next step and that is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This Saturday the announcement will be made and it is certain that Emmitt Smith’s name will be on that list.
Emmitt Smith quickly became my favorite Dallas player. The way he played the game every week was unlike I have ever seen before. Smith took control of games, hardly ever went down on first contact, always seemed to get stronger as the game went on. Smith wanted to win at all costs, but at the same time he respected the game and his fellow players in the NFL. Even people I knew who hated the Cowboys would always tell me that they couldn’t hate Emmitt Smith because he was such a class act.
Emmitt Smith went on to lead the NFL in rushing in 1991, ’92 and ’93, then again in 1995. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards in 11 straight seasons from 1991 to 2001. He has 164 rushing touchdowns and 175 total touchdowns in his NFL career. He earned the NFL MVP after the 1993 season and went on to win the MVP in Super Bowl XXVIII. His Super Bowl MVP happened after he took control of the game against Buffalo in the second half and ended up with 132 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Smith was also selected to eight Pro Bowls in his career.
On October 27, 2002 against Seattle in Texas Stadium Emmitt Smith broke Walter Payton’s All-Time rushing record. Although the Cowboys lost the game it was still an incredible moment for Smith and the Cowboys organization. What really stands out to me is the moment that Smith and Daryl Johnston had on the sideline after he broke the record. It was a touching scene that really showed the emotion and love that teammates have for each other.
With Emmitt Smith going into the Hall of Fame this year it will complete the third part of what was known as the triplets for the Cowboys in the 1990’s. Troy Aikman entered the hall in 2006 and Michael Irvin entered in 2007. Along with the Hall of Fame the triplets were inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor together during the 2005 season.
I had the good fortune of meeting Emmitt Smith after the 1994 season at an autograph signing. He was such a nice guy and took the time to talk as he signed my jersey. Actually because he was talking to us he never heard the guy he was with say that I wanted him to sign my jersey in silver ink on the back number. After he signed it in black ink the guy told him again and Emmitt asked me if I really wanted silver ink. I said that it was fine, but Emmitt went ahead and signed it a second time for me.
I will be gathering some of my most remembered games from Emmitt Smith’s career for my next post. Until then I want to congratulate Emmitt Smith, the best running back of all time for an outstanding career and for making it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I also want to thank Emmitt Smith for being the type of player that he was. The type of player that kids can look up to and want to be like.