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Thursday, October 9, 2003
Porcher says Smith has ``overstayed his welcome''


ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit defensive end Robert Porcher thinks Emmitt Smith made a mistake by not retiring after last season.

"I think he's overstayed his welcome," Porcher said. "It doesn't make me feel sad. That's the problem most players have. Most players, especially great players, have a hard time saying 'Goodbye.' Most of us have been doing this since we were little kids."

Smith, the NFL career rushing leader, said earlier Thursday he would be out "four to five" weeks after breaking his left shoulder blade in a loss at Dallas last week. Smith lost 1 yard on six carries in his first game against the team he starred for during his first 13 seasons.

He has just 192 yards and one touchdown in five games with the Cardinals. Smith broke Walter Payton's career rushing record last season, and has 17,354 yards rushing in his career.

After the Cardinals practiced Thursday, team spokesman Paul Jensen said Smith was not available to respond to Porcher's comments.

Smith made his debut with the Cardinals in a 42-24 loss in Week 1 at Detroit. Smith gained just 4 yards on his first five runs and finished with 64 yards on 13 carries.

Porcher played with Barry Sanders for seven seasons before the Lions' star running back suddenly retired just before the 1999 season. Sanders ran for 15,269 yards over 10 seasons, then retired with Payton's rushing record only one of his average seasons away.

Sanders, who always said he wasn't motivated to break records, said in a written statement that his desire to retire was stronger than his desire to play, and he hasn't said much since. He was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday and is expected to be inducted next summer with John Elway.

"What Barry did just speaks volumes about his character as a man," Porcher said. "To walk away when he was that close to the record and still at the prime of his career, says a lot about him. There have not been many players that have done what he did."

After criticizing Smith's decision to keep playing, Porcher said he would be fooling himself if he didn't think about the end of his career approaching. The 12-year veteran, who has 91.5 career sacks, has assisted on only one sack through five games this season, after making just 5.5 in 15 games last season.

Porcher said some of the moves he was able to make two years ago in a game against San Francisco, he was not able to repeat Sunday in a loss against the 49ers.

"That's just a part of what we do. You get old," Porcher, 34, said.

Porcher said he takes it "year by year" when deciding whether to play the following year.

"I'm not going to play just to play," he said. "I'm never going to do that."