A celebration of determination and excellence, former Dallas Cowboys tailback Emmitt James Smith III (1969-) was once considered too small and too slow for pro football. In October 2002, he became the NFL's top all-time rusher, breaking Walter Payton's 1984 record of 16,726 yards.
So much for size and speed.
"I've been counted out many times," Smith said. "And I'm still probably being counted out because people want to see younger players play. But I believe in what Jesus has given me. This is something that was predestined for me."
The popular running back was born in Pensacola, Florida. As an All-American at the University of Florida, he established 58 school records in three seasons. Since joining the Cowboys in 1990, he has continued to set records and play with passion.
"Winning isn't something that happens suddenly on the field when the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Winning is something that builds physically and mentally every day that you train and every night that you dream," he said.
Smith is a nine-time Pro Bowl choice, four-time All-Pro. He was also the only player to rush for over 1,000 yards in 11 consecutive seasons and over 1,400 yards for five straight years.
About his success, Smith said, "I can't just pat myself on the back because so many people have been so inspirational in the whole process."
Smith continued to gain yardage in 2004, this time with the Arizona Cardinals. "I'm not flashy," Smith said. "I come to work with my hammer and my hard hat every day."
In 2005, Smith signed a ceremonial contract with Dallas so he could retire as a member of the team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. "It's been a tremendous ride," Smith said. "I've given everything I possibly can to the game."
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