Emmitt Smith Retires


Jan 29, 2005
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Posted on Thu, Feb. 03, 2005
Emmitt Smith closes curtain on a long run


Chicago Tribune

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Emmitt Smith retired Thursday as the NFL's all-time leading rusher, yet still short of catching Jim Brown as the all-time best.
The 35-year-old Smith passed the Bears' Walter Payton in 2002, the last of his 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. He hung on for two more years with the Arizona Cardinals, gaining a respectable 937 yards with nine touchdowns this past season.
Smith finished with 18,355 yards. Payton had 16,726. Brown is way back in eighth place at 12,312 but is still king. Brown last played in the 1965 season with the Cleveland Browns, where he established a standard by which all running backs are measured.
Bigger than the linebackers of his day and faster than the defensive backs, the 6-foot-2-inch, 228-pound Brown was a physical anomaly that likely never will be duplicated. He never missed a game, retiring after only nine seasons that became instant legend.
Brown's average per carry of 5.22 yards remains No. 1, more than a yard per carry better than Smith's 4.16. Payton finished at 4.36. Detroit's Barry Sanders, third on the all-time list with 15,269 yards, averaged 4.98.
All arguments since Brown thus revolve around the runner-up, and Smith is in that conversation. Most like Payton for his size, durability, style, consistency and production, Smith was unspectacular except for the result, which is undeniable.
"The only thing (the record) says is I rushed for more yards than anybody," Smith said Thursday. "That doesn't necessarily mean I'm the best. We all come at different times and different stages. My time was now and I've done all I could do in my time."
His last coach, Arizona's Dennis Green, attended the retirement news conference, which was conducted by the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones.
"He's in the top five," Green said, naming the others, "Jim Brown, Walter, Barry and O.J. (Simpson)."
Green declined to put them in exact order, but his sequence was nearly perfect depending on whether you're from Chicago or Detroit.
Smith would rank fifth, although there have been coaches who preferred him over Sanders on the basis of predictability. Coaches are not as enamored as are fans of the wild 1-yard runs that Sanders often pulled off.
On the basis of sheer volume, Smith would rank ahead of more athletically gifted runners Eric ****erson, Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell, Marcus Allen or Gale Sayers.
Smith rushed for at least 1,000 yards every season between 1991 and 2001. He led the NFL in rushing in 1991, 1992 and 1995 and in touchdowns in three different seasons, finishing with a record 164 rushing TDs.
The Cowboys won three Super Bowls - after the 1992, 1993 and 1995 seasons_with Smith, quarterback Troy Aikman and receiver Michael Irvin playing lead roles.
Smith was both the league and Super Bowl MVP in the 1993 season. He rushed for 1,486 yards despite missing the first two games in a contract dispute and rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys' 30-13 Super Bowl victory over Buffalo in Atlanta.
Smith's best season was 1995 when he ran for 1,773 yards and 25 touchdowns at 26.
He spent several minutes Thursday reading from pages of names to thank, starting with PeeWee Football. He wiped tears after getting to Aikman, fullback Daryl Johnston and other former Cowboys teammates.
Smith denied he was involved with a potential NFL ownership group fronted by Reggie Fowler, an Arizona resident who has been mentioned in negotiations for the Minnesota Vikings. But Smith said he is considering future ownership.
Despite his decent season, Smith was not invited to re-sign with the Cardinals. He said he will sign a one-day contract with Dallas and retire a Cowboy.
Smith told Jones: "You gave me an opportunity to have a life greater than I could ever imagine."
He acknowledged his record won't last forever.
"Yes, the record will be broken," Smith said. "It is a special record because it takes durability, grace, desire, determination, a lot of humility and short-term memory. You have to forget what you did each year and go out and prepare to do it again.
"I think I achieved that record because it was meant for me. I'm just glad I recognized it and was able to capitalize on it."


Jan 17, 2005
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Emmitt Smith

I was fortunate to see him play in person for the last two seasons (when the Cardinals played the Seahawks in Seattle).


Dec 31, 2004
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He was on of the greatest of his time.I still remenber him and the other two always beating the Pack in the early to mid 90's. Man, I hated that! :hammer: