This Saturday one of the true legends to play the game of football will take his rightful place among the bronze busts in Canton, Ohio. Actually, two of the greatest players will take their place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but for me, I’m really interested in only one man. One of the top running backs in history, one of the greatest players for the Dallas Cowboys and one of my favorite players in all of football, #22, Emmitt Smith.
So for today’s top five, I thought I’d share with you my top five Emmitt Smith moments. You might be surprised at the order of the list, but these are the moments that stand out in my mind when I think of Emmitt. Without any further ado …
5) Emmitt runs in win over the Cardinals (10/22/2000) Now, I realize that this won’t make everyone’s list, but I only had the chance to see Emmitt run live once in my life. We made the trek to Dallas for a game against the Arizona Cardinals and I hoped against hope that the Cowboys would win. Win, they did and Emmitt had a fantastic game, rushing for the game’s first score and piling up 112 yards. At end of the game I commented to Jules that we may have witnessed one of the last times that Emmitt and Aikman would have that kind of game together. I was right.
4) Emmitt named Super Bowl XXVIII MVP – I distinctly remember a buddy of mine calling me at halftime of this game, gloating that the Cowboys were going to lose. He forgot about #22. I realize that James Washington has a legitimate gripe about not winning the MVP, but you can certainly understand why Emmitt won the award. I don’t know how you could say that the Cowboys win that game without either of those guys. Emmitt put the game away with two 2nd half touchdowns and had over 150 yards of total offense. But there is no way the Cowboys win that game without Emmitt.
3) Emmitt comes home – While on vacation at Walt Disney World, Jules and I were headed to dinner when we walked by a lounge with SportsCenter on the television. As always, SC grabbed my attention but this time I said to Jules, “That’s Emmitt.” I heard rumblings before the trip that he was pondering retirement, but didn’t realize it would happen before the Super Bowl. He signed a one day contract with the Cowboys and retired, as he should, as a Cowboy. I never got used to seeing Emmitt in the red and white of Arizona, so I was relieved seeing him handing Jerry Jones one of the Jersey’s he wore when he set the all time NFL rushing mark, keeping his word and showing there was no hard feelings between them. And, as it should be, #22 would be a Cowboy, now and forever.
2) Emmitt sets the all time NFL Rushing mark – The Cowboys were abysmal when Emmitt set the all time rushing record against the Seahawks. It really didn’t matter. It was almost as though the Cowboys had as their solitary goal that season to get Emmitt the rushing record. And they did get it for him at Texas Stadium. Rather than continue to blather on about it, I’ll let you watch the run for yourself.
1) Emmitt carries the Cowboys to a division title – It’s the stuff of legends. On a cold day in the Meadowlands, with the division title on the line, the main guy goes down with a separated shoulder. Or does he? With a passion and power that separates the mere mortal to the legendary, Emmitt Smith lifted the entire Cowboys team onto that separated shoulder and carried them to a division crown and a home playoff game and then onto the repeat Super Bowl win. 170 yards and few more through the air and Emmitt set the standard for toughness for all future Cowboys. The NFL recently said that it was their number four guttiest performance in NFL history. Maybe. But it is definitely my number one memory of #22.
There you have it. One Cowboys fan’s top memories of the great Emmitt Smith. Congrats, Emmitt, on your induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You earned it and in the process made this Cowboys fan very happy.