Monday, October 28, 2002
Updated: March 15, 5:47 PM ET
Emmitt played through pain for 'Boys
By Kris Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com
Jan. 2, 1994 - In the final game of the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys traveled to the frigid Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., for an NFC East showdown with the New York Giants that would give home-field advantage and a playoff bye to the victor.
With the Cowboys leading 10-0 late in the second quarter, Emmitt Smith ran for 46 yards before he was slammed to the artificial turf at Giants Stadium by safety Greg Jackson. Smith remained on the ground, having suffered a separated right shoulder.
Despite the ferocious pain, Smith returned in the third quarter. He touched the ball 17 more times. "Emmitt was hurting, he was done," right guard Kevin Gogan said. "He sucked it up for his boys. I don't know how he did it."
In overtime, with his right arm dangling uselessly between plays, Smith ran or had a reception on nine of the Cowboys' 11 plays on their game-winning drive. He gained 41 of their 52 yards to set up Eddie Murray's 41-yard field goal that gave Dallas a 16-13 victory.
Smith finished with 168 yards on 32 carries and had 10 receptions for 61 yards and one touchdown. He became the fourth player to win three straight NFL rushing titles, joining Steve Van Buren, Jim Brown and Earl Campbell.
Odds 'n' Ends
Smith's mother, Mary, had various jobs, including being a document clerk for a bank in Pensacola, Fla. She gave Emmitt his religious training and respect for discipline.
His father, Emmitt Jr., played high school football and basketball and junior college basketball before leaving school to help support his invalid mother.
When Smith was five, he played two-on-two tackle games with his older cousins.
At seven, he played in the mini-mite division of the Salvation Army Optimists League.
Smith wasn't able to play eighth-grade football because of a weight limit that was set on youngsters. He weighed 180 pounds and the limit was 160. His thighs were so thick that he couldn't fit some jeans past his knees. He wound up coaching running backs for the team.
Smith never ran for fewer than 71 yards at Escambia High School, even as a freshman.
While a junior, Smith appeared in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" on Jan. 13, 1986 after a 301-yard performance.
When he graduated Escambia, Smith's 8,804 rushing yards were second all-time nationally, behind only the 11,232 of Ken Hall (1950-53) of Sugar Land, Tex.
Smith's national record of 45 100-yard rushing games lasted until 2002, when Demetris Summers of Lexington, S.C., beat his mark by one.
When Jimmy Johnson was coaching the University of Miami, he tried to recruit Smith, but the running back chose Florida.
Smith rushed for more than 100 yards in 25 of his 34 games at Florida.
Smith's longest run was a 75-yard touchdown against Washington in 1991.
His time in the 40 yards while at Florida was 4.55 seconds, on synthetic turf.
The 1990 NFL draft was the first in which juniors were allowed to pass up their final year of college eligibility. Smith and 37 other juniors came out early.
The Atlanta Falcons tried to trade up with the Pittsburgh Steelers to draft Smith at No. 17, but were beaten to the deal by Dallas.
The Cowboys had rated Smith the fourth best player in the draft.
Smith had only one 200-yard rushing game in his career - 237 yards against Philadelphia on Halloween 1993.
Smith's longest reception was for 86 yards against Phoenix in 1993.
With his 132 points in 1994, Smith became the first non-kicker to lead Dallas in scoring since Bob Hayes and Dan Reeves tied for the team-lead in 1967.
Keeping a promise to his mother, Smith attended summer classes at Florida and graduated in May 1996 with a bachelor's degree in public recreation.
In 1996, Smith signed a $42.5-million, eight-year contract with the Cowboys.
In July 1996, Smith moved into a new $2 million, 13,000-square foot mansion in Addison, Tex., just north of Dallas. Until then, he lived in modest two-bedroom quarters, not paying more than $800 a month in rent.
Smith is an avid domino player and often competed in the locker room with teammates. He calls himself the "dominologist."
Smith ran for more than 100 yards in seven of his 16 postseason games.
While Smith still holds the record for most rushing touchdowns in a season with 25, the Rams' Marshall Faulk broke his mark for most TDs when he got 26 in 2000.
Smith has run for at least 10 touchdowns in eight seasons. Nobody else has done it more than six times.
Smith has been selected to nine Pro Bowls.
After the 2001 season, in which the Cowboys finished 5-11 for the second straight year, Smith wrote letters to his teammates stressing to them the importance of off-season conditioning.
Smith broke Payton's record of 16,726 yards by rushing for 109 against Seattle on Oct. 27, 2002. It gave him 16,743. He also became the first player to reach 150 rushing touchdowns in that game, a 17-14 defeat.
In 2004, Smith twice ran for more than 100 yards to give him 78 100-yard games for his career, breaking Payton's record of 77.
Also for Arizona in 2004, he threw the first touchdown pass - on the first attempt - of his 15-year career.
Smith's record of 25 touchdowns (all rushing) in a season was broken in 2000 when the Rams' Marshall Faulk scored 26. That mark, and Smith's record of 25 rushing TDs, were bettered by the Chiefs' Priest Holmes, who ran for 27 touchdowns in 2003.
Smith ran for at least 10 touchdowns in eight seasons. Nobody else has done it more than six times.
Smith was selected to nine Pro Bowls.
In May 2006, Smith was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
In November 2006, Smith was named the winner of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" competition (season 3), beating out actor Mario Lopez in the final.
In 2007, Smith joined ESPN as a studio analyst for its NFL pregame shows.