- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – Ten years ago on Saturday, Emmitt Smith became the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, breaking Walter Payton’s record.
Smith finished with 18,355 yards when he retired in 2004. With the way the game is being played now, Smith’s record seems unbreakable.
“Records ultimately always seem to get broken,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Some of those ones that are untouchable and last a long time at some point seem to be eclipsed, but you’re question is well taken because the way the league is it doesn’t seem like we have these bellcow rushers who get the all 25-30 times a game like they did years ago.
“Of all of Emmitt’s greatest traits, and he had thousands as a player – as instinctive a player as I’ve been around, great balance, great power, explosiveness, feel, vision all that stuff – I think at the end of the day, his most redeeming quality was his durability. Because he was a marked man ever since he was probably 13, 14 years, and everybody knew who Emmitt Smith was going into every game. Every defense wanted to stop him. And week in and week out, year after year after year, he showed up and was so productive. It’s hard to find that in this era of football ... I don’t think anybody might be able to eclipse what he accomplished.”
Through statements released from a spokesman, Smith, who is competing on Dancing With the Stars, said he was surprised it has been 10 years.
“It was certainly a milestone for me and was difficult to accomplish,” Smith said. “Football is the ultimate team sport; one that’s not really about breaking records. My accomplishments throughout my career were due not only to my abilities, but also certainly to the efforts and sacrifices of others. I can’t take all the credit. We did this as a team and that is something I’ll always cherish.”
IRVING, Texas – Ten years ago on Saturday, Emmitt Smith became the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, breaking Walter Payton’s record. Smith finished with 18,355 yards when he retired in 2004.