Friday, September 26, 2008

110 Percent Hall of Fame 2008: Emmitt Smith

The Year: 1990. The Scene: New York, NY. The Event: The NFL draft. The previous year the Cowboys had gone 1-15, easily the worst record in the league. They would have had the #1 draft pick, but they had used a supplemental pick on Miami QB Steve Walsh. But the Vikings had traded a slew of draft picks for Herschel Walker the previous year and the Cowboys were ready to reap that harvest. They had a player targeted, but weren't sure if he would drop to them. After some maneuvering, they got as high as they could: #17. Unfortunately, the guy they wanted, Baylor LB James Francis, went #12 to the Cincinnati Bengals, who had a decent 10 year career. So they settled on the 2nd RB taken in the draft, Emmitt Smith, a guy who was very productive in college at Florida, but considered too small and too slow to make it in the NFL. Sometimes it better to be lucky than good.

For the 90's Cowboys that won three Super Bowls in four years and was arguably the greatest team in NFL history, QB Troy Aikman was the brain of the team, WR Michael Irvin was the heart, but Emmitt Smith was the engine that team ran on. In the fourth quarter of many games, Emmitt would grind it out behind that awesome offensive line and just punish a team into submission. His statistics and awards speak for themselves: career rushing leader, career rushing TD leader, 1990 rookie of the year, 1993 MVP, 1993 Super Bowl MVP, and 3 Super Bowl rings.

His signature game was on January 4, 1994 against the Giants in New York. They were tied with the Giants for 1st in the NFC East. This game would be the difference between a bye and home field advantage and going on the road for the playoffs. Late in the 2nd quarter, Emmitt separated his shoulder. But going into overtime, tied 13-13, the Cowboys rode Emmitt to the tune of 50 yards on 8 carries to a game winning field goal. He was the warrior that won that game. For the whole game he rushed for 163 yards on 32 carries and totaled 229 yards of all purpose yardage.

The Cowboys have had a history of great running backs: Tony Dorsett, Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas, and Herschel Walker, but Emmitt stands at the top of that list.

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