refer to caption
Smith at 2007 speech
Position: Running back
Date of birth: May 15, 1969 (age 46)
Place of birth: Pensacola, Florida
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
High school: Escambia HS, Pensacola, Fla.
NFL draft: 1990 / Round: 1 / Pick: 17
Dallas Cowboys (1990–2002)
Arizona Cardinals (2003–2004)
Career highlights and awards
Unanimous All-American (1989)
3× First-team All-SEC (1987–1989)
SEC Most Valuable Player (1989)
College Football Hall of Fame
Gator Football Ring of Honor
University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame
8× Pro Bowl (1990–1995, 1998, 1999)
4× First-team All-Pro (1992–1995)
Second-team All-Pro (1991)
4× First-team All-NFC (1992–1995)
2× Second-team All-NFC (1991, 1996)
4× NFL rushing leader (1991–1993, 1995)
3× Super Bowl champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
Super Bowl MVP (XXVIII)
NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (AP, PFWA, 1990)
NFL MVP (NEA, 1992)
NFL MVP (AP, PFWA, SN, NEA, MX, 1993)
NFL/NFC Offensive Player of the Year (PW, UPI, 1993)
Pro Football Hall of Fame (2010)
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor
#22 no longer issued by Dallas Cowboys
Career rushing yards (18,355)
Career rushing touchdowns (164)
Career 100-yard rushing games (78)
Dallas Cowboys all-time leading rusher (17,162)
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 226
Rushing yards / TDs: 18,355 / 164
Receiving yards: 3,224
TD receptions: 11
Points scored: 1,052
Player stats at NFL.com
Pro Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
Emmitt James Smith III (born May 15, 1969) is an American former college and professional football running back who became the National Football League's (NFL) all time leading rusher during his fifteen seasons in the league during the 1990s and 2000s.
Smith grew up in Pensacola, Florida and became the 2nd leading rusher in American high school football history while playing for Escambia High School. Smith then attended the University of Florida, where he set numerous school rushing records over a three year college career with the Florida Gators. After being named a unanimous All-American in 1989, Smith choose to forgo his senior year of eligibility and play professionally.
The Dallas Cowboys selected Smith in the first round of the 1990 NFL draft. During his long professional career, he became the NFL's all-time rushing leader, breaking the record formerly held by Walter Payton, and played for three Super Bowl-winning Dallas Cowboys teams. Smith is the only running back to ever win a Super Bowl championship, the NFL Most Valuable Player award, the NFL rushing crown, and the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award all in the same season (1993). He is also one of only four running backs to lead the NFL in rushing three or more consecutive seasons, joining Steve Van Buren, Jim Brown and Earl Campbell. Smith led the league in rushing and won the Super Bowl in the same year three times (1992, 1993, and 1995) when to that point it had never been done. Smith is also one of only two non-kickers in NFL history to score more than 1,000 career points (the other being Jerry Rice). Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, and is the first player from the 1990 NFL Draft to be inducted.
Smith played thirteen seasons with the Cowboys and two with the Arizona Cardinals. While playing for Dallas, Smith plus quarterback Troy Aikman and wide receiver Michael Irvin were known as "The Triplets," and they led their team to three Super Bowl championships during the 1990s.
1 Early years
2 College career
3 Professional career
3.1 Playing style
3.3 NFL statistics
4 Life after football
5 Personal life
Smith was born in Pensacola, Florida, the son of Mary J. Smith and Emmitt James Smith, Jr. He attended Escambia High School in Pensacola, where he played high school football and ran track for the Escambia Gators. During Smith's high school football career, Escambia won the state football championship, and Smith rushed for 106 touchdowns and 8,804 yards, which was the second most yardage in the history of American high school football at the time. Emmitt rushed for over 100 yards in 45 of the 49 games he started for Escambia (including the last 28 in a row) and finished with a 7.8 yards per carry average. Twice, he broke the 2,000-yard rushing mark in a season. In track & field, Smith competed as a sprinter and was a member of the 4 × 100 m (42.16 s) relay squad.
For his efforts, Smith was named the USA Today and Parade magazine high school player of the year for 1986. In 2007, twenty years after Smith graduated from high school, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) named Smith to its "All-Century Team," recognizing him as one of the thirty-three greatest Florida high school football players of the last 100 years. As part of its "100 Years of Florida High School Football" awards ceremony, FHSAA named Smith as its "Player of the Century."
Despite his accomplishments and accolades, some college recruiting analysts opined that he was too small and too slow to succeed in major college football when he signed to play for the University of Florida. Recruiting expert Max Emfinger said of Smith, "Emmitt Smith is a lugger, not a runner. He's not fast. He can't get around the corner. When he falls flat on his face, remember where you heard it first."
Smith accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played for coach Galen Hall's Florida Gators football team for three seasons from 1987 to 1989. He did not start the first two games of his college career in the fall of 1987, but made the most of his opportunities in a second-week rout of Tulsa in which he gained 109 yards on just ten carries, including a 66-yard touchdown run. That performance earned him a spot in the starting lineup the following week in the Gators' SEC opener against Alabama at Legion Field.
In his first collegiate start, Smith promptly broke Florida's 57-year-old all-time single game rushing record held by Red Bethea, carrying 39 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns as the Gators upset the Crimson Tide. Smith went on to break the 1,000-yard barrier in the seventh game of his freshman season, the fastest any running back had ever broken that barrier to begin his college career. He finished the 1987 season with 1,341 yards and was named Southeastern Conference and National Freshman of the Year. He also finished ninth in that year's Heisman voting.
Smith and the Gators began the 1988 season strong as Smith averaged over 120 yards per game, leading his team to 5-0 start. During the sixth contest against Memphis State, Smith injured his knee and was forced out of action for several weeks. The Gators lost the game in which he was injured plus their next three games, and with starting quarterback Kyle Morris also injured, they were unable to muster a single touchdown over 14 quarters of play. Once Smith returned to the lineup, they rebounded to finish the season 7-5, including a win in the 1988 All-American Bowl in which Smith ran for a 55-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and was named the game's MVP. Smith rushed for 988 yards on the year (not including the bowl game) at 110 yards per game, the lowest totals of his college career.
Smith stayed healthy throughout his junior season in 1989 and found success again. He finished the campaign with Florida records for rushing yards in a season (1,599), rushing yards in a single game (316 versus New Mexico in October 1989), longest rushing play (96 yards against Mississippi State in 1988), career rushing yards (3,928), career rushing yards per game (126.7) and career rushing touchdowns (36), among many others. In all, Smith owned 58 school records at the conclusion of his Florida career despite playing on Florida teams with virtually no passing game, which made him the focal point of opposing defenses.
At the conclusion of his junior season in 1989, Smith was named a first-team SEC selection for the third year and SEC Player of the Year, was a unanimous first-team All-American, and finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
On January 1, 1990, Florida hired Steve Spurrier to coach the Gators. Smith, concerned about his potential role in Spurrier's reportedly pass-first offense, decided to forgo his senior year at Florida and enter the NFL draft (Smith's school rushing record would be broken by Errict Rhett, Spurrier's first starting running back at Florida, albeit over four seasons instead of three and on 173 more rushing attempts). Smith returned to the university during the NFL off-season and completed his bachelor's degree in 1996.
Smith was subsequently inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 1999, the Gator Football Ring of Honor and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. As part of a series of articles written for The Gainesville Sun in 2006, he was recognized as the No. 3 all-time player among the top 100 from the first 100 years of the Gators football program.
Despite his collegiate success, some NFL teams still felt that Smith was too small and slow for the pro game. He fell to the 17th pick in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft, when he was chosen by the Dallas Cowboys, who traded up to draft him.
Smith was the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,400 rushing yards or more in five consecutive seasons. Smith, Jim Brown, Adrian Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson are the only players with seven straight ten-touchdown seasons to start their careers. With 1,021 rushing yards in 2001, Smith became the first player in NFL history with 11 consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and the first to post eleven 1,000-yard rushing seasons in a career. He is the NFL's all-time leader in rushing attempts with 4,409. Smith is the only player to post three seasons with nineteen or more touchdowns. He also holds the record for most games in a season with a touchdown and most games in a season with a rushing touchdown (15), set in 1995.
Fan banner honoring the NFL's all-time leading rusher banner at Texas Stadium.
Smith currently holds the NFL record in career rushing yards with 18,355, breaking the previous record held by Walter Payton, on October 27, 2002. He leads all running backs with 164 career rushing touchdowns, and his 175 total touchdowns ranks him second only to Jerry Rice's 208. The total of his rushing yards, receiving yards (3,224) and fumble return yards (−15) gives him a total of 21,564 yards from the line of scrimmage, making him one of only four players in NFL history to eclipse the 21,000-combined yards mark. (The others being Jerry Rice, Brian Mitchell and Walter Payton)
Smith also accumulated several NFL postseason records, including rushing touchdowns (19), consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (9), and 100-yard rushing games (7). His 1,586 yards rushing is also top on the NFL postseason chart, and he shares the total playoff touchdown mark of twenty-one with Thurman Thomas. With the Cowboys, Smith won three Super Bowl rings and rushed for over 100 yards in two of those games, Super Bowl XXVII (108 yards and a touchdown, and six receptions for twenty-seven yards), and Super Bowl XXVIII (132 yards and two touchdowns, and four receptions for twenty-six yards). Smith received the Super Bowl MVP award for Super Bowl XXVIII, becoming the only Cowboys running back ever to win that award. He also scored two touchdowns in Super Bowl XXX.
In 1995, Smith broke two of Tony Dorsett's Dallas franchise rushing records, the first for most consecutive initial games of a season with 100+ rushing yards (Smith's four to Dorsett's three) and the second for single-season rushing yards (1773 to Dorsett's 1646). Both records would hold for 19 years, until in 2014 DeMarco Murray rushed for 100+ yards in each of his first eight games and accumulated 1845 rushing yards over the course of the season.
In his last season, Smith became the oldest player in NFL history ever to throw his first touchdown pass, throwing a 21-yard touchdown strike on a halfback option play. It was the only passing attempt of his career.
Smith is one of only five NFL players who have amassed over 10,000 career-rushing yards and 400 career receptions. Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice are the only two non-kickers to score 1,000 points in a career.
As a runner, Smith was consistently effective, though not dazzling in style. "(Smith) darted, slithered and followed his blockers, and squeezed yard after yard out of plays that didn't have any yards in them. He didn't look especially fast or powerful or blindingly deceptive, yet he couldn't be stopped." Smith was noted for being a very durable back with excellent vision, tremendous leg strength, and great balance, and was known as one of the best second-effort runners ever. Smith was also a reliable receiver and an excellent blocker in pass protection.
During his career, he was often compared to Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, as both men were extremely successful for their respective teams and combined for 8 rushing titles during the 1990s. Some give Smith the edge for his consistent "north-south" style that took full advantage of Dallas' talented offensive line, while some think Sanders' spectacular running style with sudden changes of direction made him a better back. Observers agree, though, that both Smith and Sanders were among the greatest men to ever play the game.
Although Smith is the only player to tell John Madden that Madden NFL rated his skills too high, he was ranked No. 68 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999, three years before becoming the game's all-time rushing yardage leader.
Three days before Super Bowl XXXIX in February 2005, Smith announced his retirement from the NFL. He was released by the Arizona Cardinals and signed a one-day contract for one dollar with the Dallas Cowboys, after which he immediately retired as a Cowboy, the team he played for from 1990 to 2002.
Season Rushing Receiving
Year Team GP GS Att Yds TD Lng Y/A Y/G A/G Rec Yds TD Lng Y/R R/G Y/G
1990 DAL 16 15 241 937 11 48 3.9 58.6 15.1 24 228 0 57 9.5 1.5 14.3
1991 DAL 16 16 365 1563 12 75 4.3 97.7 22.8 49 258 1 14 5.3 3.1 16.1
1992 DAL 16 16 373 1713 18 68 4.6 107.1 23.3 59 335 1 26 5.7 3.7 20.9
1993 DAL 14 13 283 1486 9 62 5.3 106.1 20.2 57 414 1 86 7.3 4.1 29.6
1994 DAL 15 15 368 1484 21 46 4.0 98.9 24.5 50 341 1 68 6.8 3.3 22.7
1995 DAL 16 16 377 1773 25 60 4.7 110.8 23.6 62 375 0 40 6.0 3.9 23.4
1996 DAL 15 15 327 1204 12 42 3.7 80.3 21.8 47 249 3 21 5.3 3.1 16.6
1997 DAL 16 16 261 1074 4 44 4.1 67.1 16.3 40 234 0 24 5.9 2.5 14.6
1998 DAL 16 16 319 1332 13 32 4.2 83.3 19.9 27 175 2 24 6.5 1.7 10.9
1999 DAL 15 15 329 1397 11 63 4.2 93.1 21.9 27 119 2 14 4.4 1.8 7.9
2000 DAL 16 16 294 1203 9 52 4.1 75.2 18.4 11 79 0 19 7.2 0.7 4.9
2001 DAL 14 14 261 1021 3 44 3.9 72.9 18.6 17 116 0 22 6.8 1.2 8.3
2002 DAL 16 16 254 975 5 30 3.8 60.9 15.9 16 89 0 17 5.6 1.0 5.6
2003 ARI 10 5 90 256 2 22 2.8 25.6 9.0 14 107 0 36 7.6 1.4 10.7
2004 ARI 15 15 267 937 9 29 3.5 62.5 17.8 15 105 0 18 7.0 1.0 7.0
Career -- 226 219 4409 18355 164 75 4.2 81.2 19.5 515 3224 11 86 6.3 2.3 14.3
13 yrs DAL 201 199 4052 17162 153 75 4.2 85.4 20.2 486 3012 11 86 6.2 2.4 15.0
2 yrs ARI 25 20 357 1193 11 29 3.3 47.7 14.3 29 212 7.3 0 36 1.2 8.5
GP: games played
GS: games started
Att: rushing attempts
Y/A: yards per attempt
Y/G: yards per game
A/G: rushing attempts per game
Y/R: yards per reception
R/G: receptions per game
Y/G: receiving yards per game
Life after football
In September 2005, Smith signed on to serve as a studio analyst on the NFL Network show, NFL Total Access.
On September 19, 2005, at halftime of the Cowboys-Redskins game (broadcast on Monday Night Football), Smith was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor with his long-time teammates Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin.
On July 23, 2006, Smith was a judge at the Miss Universe 2006 pageant.
In the fall of 2006, Smith won the third season of Dancing with the Stars with professional dancer Cheryl Burke. Smith was praised for "making dancing look manly" and for his "natural charm," and Burke was given credit for coaching Smith while still allowing him to improvise some moves.
On March 12, 2007, Smith joined ESPN as a studio analyst for their NFL pre-game coverage alongside Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, and Chris Mortensen. However, he was removed from this coverage for the 2008 season. Instead, he appears Sunday mornings during the NFL season on SportsCenter. He performs with Steve Young and Stuart Scott at the Monday Night Football site each week on Monday Night Countdown. His contract was not renewed for the 2009 season.
Smith was criticized by some in the media and sports blogs as being inarticulate. Jimmy Kimmel Live! created a video called "Emmitt Smith: Wordsmith" mocking his numerous malapropisms. Sports Illustrated′s Peter King called Smith's comments regarding Michael Vick's involvement in the Bad Newz Kennels "idiotic and inappropriate."
Smith was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, in his first year of eligibility.
On February 7, 2010, Smith flipped the coin at the start of Super Bowl XLIV between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.
In June 2010, Smith returned to high school alma mater, Escambia High School in Pensacola, Florida, for a taping of ESPN's show Homecoming with Rick Reilly. In October 2010, he was inducted into the Escambia High School Sports Hall of Fame during halftime of an EHS football game along with former Seattle Mariners third baseman Jim Presley, and a several other EHS alumni.
In 2005 Smith made his first move toward becoming a real estate developer. He teamed with another Cowboy legend, Roger Staubach, the founder and CEO of Staubach Co., to form Smith/Cypress Partners LP, a real estate development enterprise specializing in transforming underutilized parcels in densely populated areas into commercially viable properties anchored by national retail giants.
In his first deal, Smith helped the firm sign Mervyn's, a California-based department store chain, to anchor a $45 million, 230,000-square-foot (21,000 m2) project in Phoenix.
With access to $50 million in capital, Smith has several other projects in the works. He has a letter of intent to develop a 65-acre (260,000 m2) site in a densely populated yet underserved area near northwest Fort Worth (it was formerly a college operated by a Masonic lodge), and he is currently negotiating for rights to another potential project in southeastern Fort Worth.
On one of the sites, Smith plans to build a complex with as much as 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2) of retail space, more than double the size of the Phoenix property. "There's a huge need for top-quality retail in these areas, and I understand how the deals are cut," Smith said before lunch. "I'm not an engineer. I'm not a contractor. And I'm still learning the jargon. But I understand deals, and the only way to grow is to be in the middle of the deals."
Smith/Cypress is a joint venture (Smith owns 51 percent) with Cypress Equities, the retail development arm of Roger Staubach's real estate services company. Early in his own playing career, Smith approached the former Cowboy quarterback with an interest in learning more about real estate. Skeptical at first, Staubach told Smith to spend some time at his company's offices during the spring and summer if he was sincere. Smith did just that, spending the off-season at Staubach Co.'s headquarters in Dallas. Staubach founded the company in the late 1970s to locate and negotiate office and retail space for clients. In 2006 the privately held firm had transactions totaling $26 billion and 835,000,000 square feet (77,600,000 m2) of space.
In 2014, Smith's company began a nationwide expansion, including into New York City.
Smith also co-founded ESmith Legacy, a Baltimore-based company that specializes in commercial real estate development and investment management. He serves as its Co-Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.
In 2007, he was a guest in How I Met Your Mother, where he joked to Super Bowl about this question asked by Barney Stinson "What is more important than the Super Bowl? - Dance, my friend, dance".
Smith participated in the 2011 National Heads-Up Poker Championship, defeating David Williams in the first round and losing in the second round to Andrew Robl.
He returned to Dancing with the Stars in its fifteenth season as one of the "All-Stars" contestants. Smith once again had Cheryl Burke as his professional dance partner. They were voted off during the ninth week of the competition.
Smith was initiated as a member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity at the University of Florida. He returned to the university during the NFL offseason to complete his coursework, and graduated with his bachelor's degree in public recreation in May 1996.
Smith has a daughter, Rheagen Smith, with ex-girlfriend Hope Wilson. Smith married former Miss Virginia USA beauty queen Patricia Southall on April 22, 2000. They have a son, Emmitt IV—who was born on Smith's 33rd birthday May 15, 2002—and daughter Skylar, who was born on October 15, 2003. She brought to their marriage her daughter Jasmin Page Lawrence, from her previous marriage to comedian Martin Lawrence.
His brother, Emory, played on the practice squads of the Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers.