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Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Smith eligible for Hall of Fame in five years

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

Two months after his tearful Super Bowl week news conference, the leading rusher in NFL history has made his retirement official.

Emmitt Smith submitted his retirement paperwork to the NFL office earlier this week. And on Tuesday, the Dallas Cowboys placed him on the reserve/retired list, acknowledging the end to his brilliant 15-year career.

Smith, 35, who played the last two seasons of his career with the Arizona Cardinals, signed a ceremonial contract last Thursday with the Cowboys so he'd essentially retire from the same team that selected him in the first round of the 1990 draft.

Besides being eligible to receive the league's severance package, Smith now will be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration in five years and almost certainly will be elected on his first ballot. Smith carried 4,409 times for 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns during his 15 seasons in the NFL. The former University of Florida star rushed for 1,000 or more yards 11 times, each season from 1991-2001. Twice, in 1994 and 1995, he posted 20-plus rushing touchdowns.

After 13 years with the Cowboys, Smith was released in 2003 for salary cap reasons and signed a two-year contract with the Cardinals. He gained 1,193 yards in his two seasons in Arizona, including 937 yards on 267 carries in 2004.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.