Emmitt Smith is arguably the greatest running back in NFL history with a resume that is second to none. Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards, is the only player to accumulate 17,000 career rushing yards. He led the NFL in rushing yards four times (in a five-year span) and three times in rushing touchdowns (in a four-year span).
Smith leads all running backs in rushing touchdowns (164) and is second in NFL history in touchdowns scored (175) – only Jerry Rice has more with 208. Smith is the only player to post three seasons with 19 or more touchdowns, and holds the NFL record for most games in a season with a touchdown and most games in a season with a rushing touchdown (15) — which he set in 1995. Smith and Rice are the only two non-kickers in NFL history to score 1,000 career points.
As a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team, Smith rushed for 1,000 yards in a season 11 consecutive times, an NFL record. The 1993 NFL MVP, Smith was an All-Pro four times and made the Pro Bowl eight times. Smith’s post-season success cannot be ignored as he holds NFL records for rushing yards (1,586), rushing touchdowns (19), consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (nine), and 100-yard rushing games (seven).
In a one-on-one interview with CBS Sports, Smith discussed the Dallas Cowboys’ off-season and whether they’re ready to break the Super Bowl championship drought.
Even though the Cowboys drafted Deuce Vaughn, do you think they would enjoy bringing back Ezekiel Elliott?
Blacksmith: “Oh sure. Actually I was really disappointed that they let Zeke go. Due to Tony Pollard’s injury I thought they would have kept both guys back there and could have given them a bit more.” time to see how Pollard bounced back.
“I’m sure when you’re a runner, when you get an injury like Tony Pollard – the question is can you come back? As a runner, I need my legs. And I need my legs to function the way they used to to function.
“Will he come back the same? I don’t know, I pray he does. I want the young man to have a long, prosperous career. That’s No. 1. No. 2 – I just want to see him back on the football field because he is such an exciting football player.
“Having a backup or a starter like Zeke in the meantime would have been one of the things I would have thought of. The Cowboys are business people and Zeke understands that, but you have to light the iron when it’s hot and compensated become for your worth.” If you’re not, people will send you out.”
Do you think Jerry Jones has changed his philosophy of team building and roster building since you’ve been around?
Blacksmith: “There’s been a change. When I was there, of course, that was the very beginning. When you look at what he and Jimmy (Johnson) have been able to build in the four to five years they’ve been together, it’s taken some time and a lot of foresight, which came from concept choices and decisions they made together.
“Since Jimmy’s gone, there’s been a renaissance going on, if you will, to try and get back to that level.”
Dak Prescott got a lot of flak last year, some deserved and some undeserved. What do you think he should do to take his game to the next level?
Blacksmith: “Controlling the offense and being able to dictate the defense through your ability to know where the ball needs to go for play, but (he also has to) manipulate the defense in terms of how he approaches play and how he sees the play before he hits the ball throws.
“Quarterbacks have the ability to watch players and watch defenses and dictate what happens. They can clear the ball quickly and do it in an accurate manner. That’s what made Tom Brady so good, that’s what Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers made. so good. That’s what made them different. Their ability to know their offense not just inside and out but to manipulate players in the process of their ability to read what the defense is doing do is.
“That’s one of the things I look for in any quarterback and whether or not he grows into that role – you have to know that offense like the fingerprints on your hand. You get a chance to get the scab on your skin break and you know it will come back. You get a chance to manipulate a defense the way you want and make use of those skills and act on them.
“As a runner, I always did. My job was to make a defense do something I didn’t intend to do!”
Is there a run back in the league today that reminds you of the time you played? You know, a little Emmitt in it?
Blacksmith: “There are some running backs who have a little bit of Emmitt Smith in them. We all share the same position. They have to have vision, they have to have speed, that agility to make the jump cuts and be able to block – though those kind of things.
“I think there’s a little bit of me in every running back’s history. Physical sizes may not be there, but we all have something in common. We’re crazy enough to be able to run the ball (laughs).”
The Cowboys are still one of the best teams in the NFC and one of the best in the NFL. Do you think they can make or pass the Eagles this year? Has the gap widened?
Blacksmith: “When you have a team built the way Philadelphia is, it’s all about the chemistry that develops at this time of year. It’s the most underrated thing most people don’t analyze. Everyone wants to look at everything on the surface and say that they look good on paper If these athletes don’t come together for the common good of the entire team, it’s more or less a minute.
“I don’t care how good your team is, if the other team is clicking on all cylinders and doing all the little things to make the big things happen – that’s when teams step up like the Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals did a few years ago, the Eagles were the most consistent team with the most consistent play throughout the season, riding that all the way to the Super Bowl.
“This is why if you look at the Eagles and say everything they’ve done this year, they should be better. They should be even better than they were last year, and if that’s the case, everyone should be on their should be wary.
“They were solid last year. That’s a credit to the Eagles football player head coach and leadership who understand the priorities, the mission and commitment to the mission. They knocked out anything that could get in the way of that mission. That’s great leadership .”
Smith, a Dallas Cowboys legend who graced the NFL for 15 years, was venturing into a new chapter in his post-playing days. Along with Tequila Herradura – the official tequila of the 2023 Kentucky Derby – Smith discovered the product when he graced the television screen at “Dancing with the Stars” and the relationship has grown ever since.
“This week is a very special week for me,” said Smith. “My youngest niece is an equestrian and we were invited to watch the Kentucky Derby as a result of the partnership. Why not have one of the best, highest premium tequilas on the market while enjoying the race?”