Here is my piece on Emmitt Smith's retirement as it appeared in the last issue of The Coyote Chronicle, distributed yesterday (2-7-05).
Legend Emmitt Smith Retires
Sports EditorArizona Cardinal running back Emmitt Smith has called it a career. A man among men, he is one of the few professional athletes, especially in this day and age, who is a class act, and in the wake of his retirement will leave a void that no contemporary player may ever fill.
If there are any doubts as to Smith’s place in the lore of the National Football League, one only needs to consider:
He is the NFL’s all-time rushing leader. Smith owns 4 NFL rushing titles, 3 Super Bowl titles, 1 NFL most-valuable-player award (1993), and 1 Super Bowl (XXVIII) most-valuable-player accolade. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, more than any other offensive player in Dallas Cowboy history and second only to Barry Sanders (10) among NFL running backs.
Smith’s 975 rushing yards in 2002 made him the seventh player in NFL history to carry the title of all-time rushing leader, surpassing legendary Chicago Bear Walter Payton. In 14 seasons as a professional football player, Smith boasts 17,418 career rushing yards. He surpassed Payton’s 16,726-yard career rushing total week eight of the 2002 season against Seattle and is also the NFL’s career leader for rushing touchdowns (155) and rushing attempts (4,142).
Smith is second in league annals in total touchdowns with 166, trailing only all-time leader Jerry Rice (205) and was the first player in NFL history to post five consecutive seasons over 1,400 yards rushing. Smith and legendary Cleveland Brown runner Jim Brown are the only players in NFL history to post seven consecutive 10-touchdown seasons to begin their careers.
Smith’s 1,021 yards rushing in 2001 made him the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in 11 consecutive seasons and the first to post eleven 1,000-yard career rushing seasons.
Smith passed Payton’s NFL-record career-carry total of 3,838 week three in 2002 and his NFL-record 25 rushing touchdowns in 1995 gave him 100 career touchdowns in just six seasons (93 games), equaling Brown for fastest to that plateau.
Prior to his arrival in Arizona, Smith’s 153 career rushing touchdowns in 201 games gave him a 0.76 touchdown-per-game average, second only to Brown’s 0.90 among all-time NFL rushing touchdown scorers (Ram Marshall Faulk is next at 0.64).
His longevity and ability to score touchdowns have combined to give Smith three of the five best touchdown totals against a single opponent in league history. Smith’s 25 career scores against his current team, Arizona, is the third best total by a player against an opponent since 1970, followed by his 24 scores against Washington and 22 against the N.Y Giants.
He is one of only three players and the only non-kicker in Dallas history to log three career 100-point seasons. The Cowboys were 99–26 (91–24 regular season) when Smith carried the ball 20 or more times in a game, 64–19 record (57–19 regular season) when he rushed for 100 yards.
That is what you may find in stat books. What you won’t find is his love and respect for the game.
Smith was the first to remove his helmet and pose in the end zone after a touchdown. He was also the first to use the “cut throat” gesture in celebration. When these actions were deemed illegal by the league, Smith would instead celebrate in the most dignified of manners alongside his teammates. He never resorted to Sharpie markers or cell phones because Smith was not about flash. The man was about scoring touchdowns, winning games, and helping to create one of the last of professional sport’s great dynasties.
Smith’s place in the Hall of Fame is secure, not only because he played the game better than most, but because he simply was, as a man, better than most.
What are your thoughts about Emmitt Smith? The Turzman wants to know. Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 909-881-3654. The best replies will be read over the air on my radio show, Sportstalk, which will premiere on the New Coyote Radio shortly (http://radio.csusb.edu).
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Live long & prosper...