JJT | Applause comes rushing in for Emmitt
Applause comes rushing in for Emmitt
Peers say there's no disputing legacy Smith will leave behind
08:11 PM CST on Wednesday, February 2, 2005
By JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR / The Dallas Morning News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Priest Holmes and Ahman Green, two of the NFL's best running backs, said they spent a portion of Wednesday afternoon arguing about Emmitt Smith.
Holmes said Smith should sign a one-year contract with the Cowboys and spend his final season playing for the team that selected him with the 17th pick in the 1990 draft.
Green said Smith has accomplished so much — eight Pro Bowls, four NFL rushing titles and three Super Bowl rings — that it's time for him to retire and give the league's young running backs a chance to shine.
"What else can he do?" Green asked.
Smith, 35, is expected to announce his retirement today at a news conference that has been scheduled to begin soon after the NFL Players Association's annual news conference. That news conference is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. and last about an hour.
Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher, has gained 18,355 yards in 15 seasons. He spent the first 13 with the Cowboys. He ran for 937 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games in 2004, his second season playing for the Arizona Cardinals.
"Emmitt will always be remembered as a Cowboy," former Cowboys star and Hall-of-Fame running back Tony Dorsett said. "All the successes he had — the rushing records and Super Bowls — happened in Dallas. I spent my last year with Denver, and it was a great experience, but I never thought of myself as a Bronco. I wanted to be remembered as a Cowboy. I'm sure Emmitt does, too."
After failing to gain more than 1,000 yards as a rookie, Smith surpassed that mark 11 consecutive times. He owns every meaningful Cowboys rushing record and a bevy of league records.
He did it without great size or speed.
Smith, 5-10 and 216 pounds, owns the most hallowed record in the NFL because he had tremendous vision, which allowed him to get to holes on the backside of plays that other backs never would have seen. He also had durability and toughness.
Smith missed only 14 games in his career, and seven of those came in the last two seasons. He never played in fewer than 10 games in a season.
"He reminded me of Walter," former Bears coach Mike Ditka said. "Walter would've been proud for Emmitt to break the record. To play 15 years and amass the yards he did, you have to be tough. "He wasn't the biggest, the strongest or the fastest. But he had tremendous will."
Smith surpassed Walter Payton's rushing record with an 11-yard run on Oct. 27, 2002 against Seattle. He finished the game with 109 yards on 24 carries.
"He's one of the great players to ever play the game — not one of the great running backs, but one of the great players," said Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis, who's contemplating retirement this off-season. "It has been an honor to play against him."