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NFL Legacies: Emmitt Smith, Running Back

Who is Emmitt Smith?

Emmitt Smith is a former running back in the NFL, he played for 15 seasons, mainly with the Dallas Cowboys. Emmitt is the league’s all-time leading rusher. He played his first game of football at 8 years old, and then went on to play high school football. He then played three years of college football for the Florida Gators, and you just know he would’ve been top choice in NCAA Football odds. In college, he was already setting rushing records, and in 1989 he chose to forgo his senior year of eligibility and play professionally. 

In 1990, the Cowboys selected him in the first round of the NFL draft. He broke many records, including Walter Payton’s record for rushing, as well as winning many awards. 

He is the only running back to ever win a Super Bowl Championship, the NFL MVP award, the NFL rushing crown, and the Super Bowl MVP awards all in the same season! And this is part of why his legacy is absolutely unforgettable! 

Smith is also one of the four rushing backs ever to lead the NFL in rushing three or more consecutive seasons; he joins Steve Van Buren, Jim Brown, and Earl Campbell. He managed to lead the league in rushing and won the Super Bowl in the same year three times, in 1992, 1992, and 1995, at this point, it had never been done before. 

The Cowboys and the Cardinals. 

In the 1990 NFL draft, the Cowboys wanted linebacker James Francis, but he was swept up by the Cincinnati Bengals, and so they decided to improve their running game instead when Smith started to drop. Despite his collegiate success, some teams still left like he was too small and slow for the pro game. 

They selected Smith and weren’t disappointed, he missed a lot of preseason having the longest holdout by a rookie in the history of the NFL, he started 15 games, rushed 937 yards, and 11 touchdowns, being   NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and receiving Pro Bowl honors. 

From here on, the figures just kept getting greater. In ‘91 he registered 1,563 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, in ‘92 he set the Cowboys single-season franchise record and won the rushing title with 1,713 yards. However, in ‘93, he really proved his work as he missed all of training camp and the first 2 regular season games. The Cowboys lost both contests with rookie Derrick Lassic in his place, and with the season in jeopardy, they reached an agreement and made Smith the highest paid running back in the league. He then posted 1,486 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns, helping the Cowboys to become the first team to win a Super Bowl after starting the season 0-2.

After a long and successful career with the Cowboy, he signed a 2-year contract with the Cardinals as a free agent. However on an October 5th game, the Cardinals lost 7-24, and Smiths 6 carries for minus-1 yards, which marked the first time in his career he rushed negative yardage. He had suffered a broken left shoulder blade after safety Roy Williams hit him in the second quarter, and this injury forced him to miss 6 games, and he finished the season with 256 rushing yards and with an average of 2.8 yards per carry. 

Three days before the Super Bowl in February 2005, Smith announced his retirement from the NFL.

NFL Records. 

Smith holds many records, still holding the NFL record for career rushing yards with a total of 18,355. He leads all running backs with 164 career rushing touchdowns, and his 175 touchdowns ranks him second. 

He is the NFL’s all-time leader in rushing attempts as well with 4,409, and is the only player to post three seasons with 19 or more touchdowns. He is the record-holder for most games in a season with a touchdown and most games in a season with a rushing touchdown, which he set in 1995. 

He is without a doubt the most successful running back in NFL history, and his many records prove this.  

Emmitt Smith’s NFL Stats. 

Emmitt Smith has 18,355 rushing yards in his career, averaging at 4.2 yards per carry. He also made 164 rushing touchdowns, 515 receptions, 3,224 receiving yards, and 11 receiving touchdowns. His total rushing attempts through his career is 4,409, and it is safe to say that for a running back, his stats are very impressive and leave a challenge for any running back who wants to beat his odds. His legacy lies in the amount of records he broke and how quickly he became the most successful running back in history. 

What about when he left the NFL?

Emmitt Smith left the NFL, and continued on with his life, still dealing out plenty of inspiration. Founding a charity with his wife to seek a reality where children have the resources needed to realize their full potential. He also served as a studio analyst on the NFL Network show, NFL Total Access, he also joined ESPN as a studio analyst for NFL pre-game coverage in 2007. He never left the NFL behind totally, and maybe one of the kids his charity has helped will end up beating his records one day. Wouldn’t that be something to behold.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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