American Football Database
Emmitt Smith

Smith at a 2007 speech
No. 22     
Running Back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1969-05-15) May 15, 1969 (age 53)
Place of birth: Pensacola, Florida
High School: Pensacola (FL) Escambia
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
College: Florida
NFL Draft: 1990 / Round: 1 / Pick: 17
Debuted in 1990 for the Dallas Cowboys
Last played in 2004 for the Arizona Cardinals
Career history
* Dallas Cowboys ( 1990 2002)
Career highlights and awards



  • NFL record: career rushing yards (18,355)
  • NFL record: career rushing touchdowns (164)
  • NFL record: career 100-yard rushing games (78)
  • Dallas Cowboys all-time leading rusher
Rushing yards     18,355
Rushing TDs     164
Receptions     515
Receiving yards     3,224
TD receptions     11
Points scored     1,052
Stats at
Pro Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame

Emmitt James Smith, III (born May 15, 1969) is a retired American football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for fifteen seasons during the 1990s and 2000s. Considered one of the greatest and the single most complete running back in NFL history, Smith played college football for the University of Florida, where he was an All-American. A first-round pick in the 1990 NFL Draft, he played professionally for the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals of the NFL.

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.

While playing for the Dallas Cowboys, Smith, quarterback Troy Aikman, and wide receiver Michael Irvin were known as "The Triplets," and led their team to three Super Bowl championships during the 1990s.[1]

Early years

Smith was born in Pensacola, Florida, the son of Mary Smith and Emmitt James Smith, Jr.[2][3] He attended Escambia High School in Pensacola, where he played high school football 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.[4] Twice, he broke the 2,000-yard rushing mark in a season.[5]

For his efforts, Smith was named the USA Today and Parade magazine high school player of the year for 1986.[6] 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.[7] As part of its "100 Years of Florida High School Football" awards ceremony, FHSAA named Smith as its "Player of the Century."[8]

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.[9] 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."[10]

College career

Smith received 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.[11] 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.[12] That performance earned him his first collegiate start in the next contest: the SEC opener against Alabama in Birmingham.

In his first full game, Smith promptly broke Florida's 40-year old all-time single game rushing record, carrying 39 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns as the Gators upset the Crimson Tide.[4] 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.[4][13] He finished the 1987 season with 1,341 yards and was named Southeastern Conference and National Freshman of the Year.[11] He also finished 9th in that year's Heisman voting.[14]

Smith started the 1988 season strong until injuring his knee against Memphis State. The Gators, who had reeled off a 5–0 record with Smith in the backfield, lost the game in which he was injured and then the next three as well while Smith was unable to play. Upon returning, he almost reached 1,000 yards on the season, finishing with 988.[11]

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), and career rushing touchdowns (36), among many others. In all, Smith owned 58 school records at the conclusion of his Florida career[11][15] despite playing on Florida teams with virtually no passing game,[16] making 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.[11][17][18]

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[6] (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).[11] 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,[19][20] the Gator Football Ring of Honor and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.[21] 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.[22]

Professional career

Despite his collegiate success, some NFL teams still felt that Smith was too small and slow for the pro game.[23] 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, 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.

File:Emmit Smith Rushing Banner.JPG

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.

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 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.

Playing style

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."[12] 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.[24] Smith was also a reliable receiver and an excellent blocker in pass protection.[25]

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.[26] Observers agree, though, that both Smith and Sanders were among the greatest men to ever play the game.[27]

In 1999, while he was still playing and three years before becoming the game's all-time rushing yardage leader, Smith was ranked No. 68 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.[28]


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.[29]

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.[30] His contract was not renewed for the 2009 season.

Smith was criticized by some in the media and sports blogs as being inarticulate.[31] 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."[32]

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.[33]

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's haggling over another potential project in southeast 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.[34]

Smith also co-founded ESmith Legacy, a Baltimore-based company that specializes in commercial real estate development and investment management.[33] He serves as its Co-Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.[35]

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.[36] Smith once again had Cheryl Burke as his professional dance partner.[37] They were voted off during the ninth week of the competition.

Career Stats

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 6.2 11 86 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
  • Abbreviation Key:

GP: Games Played

GS: Games Started

Att: Rushing Attempts

Y/A: Yards per Attempt

Y/G: Yards per Game Played

A/G: Rushing Attempts per Game Played

Rec: Receptions

Y/R: Yards per Reception

R/G: Receptions per Game Played

Y/G: Receiving Yards per Game Played

Personal life

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 off-season to complete his coursework, and graduated with his bachelor's degree in public recreation in May 1996.[38]

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.[39] She brought to their marriage her daughter Jasmin Page Lawrence, from her previous marriage to comedian Martin Lawrence.[40]

His brother, Emory, played on the practice squads of the Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers.[41]

See also


  1. Aikman, Emmitt, Irvin Heading Into Ring Of Honor. (2005-09-20). Retrieved on 2011-10-30.
  2. Retrieved on 2011-10-30.
  3. "2". Who Do You Think You Are?. NBC. 2010-03-12. No. 2, season 1.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Zimmerman, Paul (1991-10-21). "As he was in high school and college, Emmitt Smith". Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  5. "Emmit Smith Career Biography and Statistics". Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "ESPN Classic – Emmitt gives new meaning to Sweetness". Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  7. "FHSAA announces 33-member All-Century football team," Florida High School Athletic Association (December 12, 2007). Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  8. "Smith, Castle honored respectively as Player, Coach of the Century," Florida High School Athletic Association (December 14, 2007). Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  9. "Hall of Fame welcomes Emmitt Smith". The Gainesville Sun website. 2006-05-17. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  10. "Emmitt Smith is why you never trust recruiting 'experts'". The Orlando Sentinel. 2010-08-06.,0,2535368.column?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed& Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 82, 83, 86, 88, 92, 96, 98, 99, 101–102, 127, 138–140, 143, 146–148, 152, 158, 159, 162, 173, 185 (2011). Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Telander, Rick (1987-11-16). "Hopes were high for Florida's Emmitt Smith and Ohio – 11.16.87 – SI Vault". Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  13. NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records. p. 5
  14. "Former Gator Great Emmitt Smith Enshrined Into College Football Hall of Fame". 2007-07-21. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  15. "Career Highlights". Emmitt Smith Official website. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  16. Markus, Don (1989-11-19). "Heisman Race: What Should Count Most?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  17. 2012 NCAA Football Records Book, Award Winners, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, Indiana, pp. 9 & 14 (2012). Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  18., College Football, 1989 Heisman Trophy Voting. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
  19. F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  20. Dwight Collins, "UF inductees bask in glory," Ocala Star-Banner, p. 7D (September 11, 1999). Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  21. College Football Hall of Fame, Hall of Famers, Emmitt Smith. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
  22. Robbie Andreu & Pat Dooley, "No. 3 Emmitt Smith," The Gainesville Sun (August 31, 2006). Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  23. "Emmitt Smith Scrapbook: Timeline". 2002-08-12. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  24. "TSN Presents – Football's 100 Greatest Players". Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  25. "ESPN – Johnson, Slaton proving capable in pass protection – AFC South". Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  26. Keown, Tim (1997). "Running debate: Barry or Emmitt? | Sporting News, The | Find Articles at BNET".;col1. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  27. Pugh, Bobby (2002-11-04). "Emmitt Smith's attitude off the field is just as important". Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  28. "TSN Presents – Football's 100 Greatest Players". Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  29. "Emmitt Smith – Biography". Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  30. "Ex-Cowboys great Smith joins ESPN as NFL analyst". 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  31. "Bengals have issues; Chad's not one of 'em". Dayton Daily News website. 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  32. "Monday Morning QB". 2007-07-23. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Hughes, C. J. "After Sports Careers, Vying in the Real Estate Arena," ''The New York Times'', Wednesday, July 21, 2010. (2010-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-10-30.
  34. Johnson, Roy S. (2007-01-22). "Emmitt Smith: Cowboy, dancer, real estate tycoon". CNN. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  35. Our Founders (profiles) – ESmith Legacy, Inc. Retrieved on 2011-10-30.
  36. 'Dancing with the Stars': Bristol Palin, Kirstie Alley return for all-star edition
  37. 'Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars' pairs announced! They are....
  38. "Emmitt Smith Biography". Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  39. Retrieved on 2011-10-30.
  40. (1969-05-15). Retrieved on 2011-10-30.
  41. #22 EMORY SMITH FULL BACK at the Wayback Machine (archived July 16, 2011)..


  • Carlson, Norm, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia (2007). ISBN 0-7948-2298-3.
  • Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 0-9650782-1-3.
  • Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 1-58261-514-4.
  • McCarthy, Kevin M., Fightin' Gators: A History of University of Florida Football, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (2000). ISBN 978-0-7385-0559-6.
  • Nash, Noel, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois (1998). ISBN 1-57167-196-X.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Walter Payton
NFL Career Rushing Yards Leader
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Drew Lachey & Cheryl Burke
Dancing with the Stars (US) winner
Season 3 (Fall 2006 with Cheryl Burke)
Succeeded by
Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough
Preceded by
Maria Menounos & Derek Hough
Dancing with the Stars (US) semifinalist
Season 15 (Fall 2012 with Cheryl Burke)
Succeeded by
Alexandra Raisman & Mark Ballas