Emmitt - The Running King

knvb

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IRVING, Texas - When he entered the league back in 1990, Emmitt Smith admitted he set nearly every goal possible for himself, including becoming the NFL's all-time leading rusher.

After Super Bowls, five rushing titles, touchdown records and MVP awards, Smiths' trophy case is finally complete.

That is because Smith is now the new king of NFL runners, surpassing Walter Payton Sunday as the all-time leading rusher, passing the former Chicago Bears great with a season-high 109 yards, giving him 16,743 yards, 16 ahead of Payton's former 18-year standard.

The record-breaker occurred early in the fourth quarter with Smith needing just 10 yards. He took the handoff and busted through the left side of the line, sliding along at the end for an 11-yard game with 9:10 to play.

And with that, history was made.

"I don't know what to say," said Smith as he opened his post-game press conference. "Today was a very special day, very special for a number of reasons. Obviously, individually. But when you think about the individual accomplishment that occurred today, I could not go on and pat myself on the back, because so many people have been so inspirational in the whole process. That's what I love about this sport, is that it's a team game and you can't do anything without the support of your teammates."

Unfortunately for Smith, the historic event comes on a day in which the ultimate team player didn't accomplish the ultimate goal: Victory. The Cowboys fell to the Seahawks, 17-14, losing two consecutive games this season for the first time to drop their record to 3-5 heading to Detroit next Sunday.

But that was about the only sour note on an afternoon that exemplified Smith's 13-year career. Needing what would be a season-high of 93 yards to break the record, the 33-year-old running back ran with passion, determination and intensity, willing himself to the record in front of the hometown fans at Texas Stadium behind another makeshift Cowboys line that actually was further depleted midway through the fourth quarter.

"It was so important to share this record with our fans," Smith said. "They deserve this record and deserve to be a part of it. To have 64,000 people here today cheering me on and to know that they're going to go home and remember this for the rest of their lives, just like I will. It was special to do it here."

Along with several of Smith's family members in attendance, the late Payton, who died of kidney failure in 1999, was well represented as well. His mother Alyne, and brother Eddie were on hand. During the post-game ceremony on the field, Payton's brother, also a running back for the Lions during the 1970's, said Smith more than had the family's blessing.

"This is record means as much to our family as it does to you," Payton said to the fans that stayed for the celebration. "We're honored to have Emmitt break this record. There is not any other player in the NFL who deserves this more than he does. We're so proud of him because he played the game the way you're supposed to play it. He did it as hard as he could go, every play for every year. And that's how Walter did it, too. It's a great day for him and us."

And it was a great day for the fans, despite seeing their team lose in the final 30 seconds after a late Seattle field goal. But of the 63,854 paid attendance, nearly three-fourths stuck around for a trophy presentation in which former teammates Michael Irvin and Daryl Johnston addressed the fans before Smith made his way to the podium.

After watching a video congratulations from Payton's wife Connie, then addressing the fans for their support over the years as well as Sunday, Smith couldn't hold back the tears when owner Jerry Jones introduced a banner of Smith's record-breaking day, which now hangs from the Texas Stadium rafters alongside two Super Bowl banners.

But it wasn't the first time, or the last, that tears fell from Smith's eyes on this day.

The record-setting play came on a second-and-seven from the 30-yard line, with Smith needing just 10 yards. The play was "15 Lead" to the left side and Smith busted through a big hole, broke one arm tackle and then reached for extra yardage, stretching past the 40 for the needed yards.

"I was very aware of what I needed," Smith said. "I did know because the people taking care of the Jumbotrons kept showing it and flashing it and counted it down for me. Once I broke through the line of scrimmage, I knew that had to be the one."

Immediately after breaking the record, Smith darted down the field past the 50-yard line with his arms raised. He was picked up by his fullback Robert Thomas and then handed the ball from the official. The game remained stopped for a few minutes as Smith waved to the fans, hugged his mother on the sideline and just soaked up the moment as tears filled his eyes.

"I was just so relieved at that point," he said. "I can't really remember what was going through my head. It did happen so fast. But I just knew that the moment I've been waiting for, for so long, finally arrived and it was special. It really was. I don't know how to describe it."

But Smith didn't have much time to celebrate. He gathered himself in time to get back to the huddle and continue a critical drive in hopes to tie the game. Smith actually lost a yard on the next play, which kept him one yard ahead of Payton, but then left no doubt on his next carry, busting a 14-yard run into Seattle territory. A couple of pass plays and a personal foul penalty on the Seahawks set up a first-and-goal on the 1-yard line.

Once again, it was Smith's turn to shine, as he scored just his second rushing touchdown of the season with a run off left tackle. The score tied the game with 5:35 to play. But the Cowboys didn't get the ball back until just 21 seconds remained. Seattle had eaten up nearly the entire clock and put the game away with a short field goal, which put a damper on Smith's day.

"I guess we couldn't have our cake and eat it too," Smith said. "It wasn't the ideal setting for this day. We would've liked to come out of here with a win. But it doesn't always work that way. That was our goal coming into the day - to win the game."

While that team goal was not accomplished, Smith is now running out of individual achievements to conquer.

"When he came into the league back in 1990, he told me had a lot of goals in mind," Irvin said to the fans following the game. "He said he wanted to help us win a Super Bowl … and he did that. He said he wanted to become an MVP … and he did that. And then he said he wanted to become the all-time leading rusher in the NFL. And today … he did that."

From a numbers standpoint, Smith is the best running back of all time. Better than Payton, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown or Eric Dickerson. But when asked if he considers himself the best, Smith tried to stay away from such comparisons. As long as he's considered in that group, that seems to satisfy him just fine.

"To say that I'm the greatest running back of all time would be an injustice to what their talent level really is," Smith said. "How can you say that I'm the greatest or someone else is the greatest? Statistically, I am No. 1. I'm very confident that I'm one of the greatest players to play this game. I'm confident with that. But to say that I'm the very best - there are different factors involved and everyone has their own opinion. Everybody has their own unique skills and some guys do things better than others."

But it when comes to racking up rushing yards over a career, no one has done it better than Smith.
 

knvb

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Some would say even after this great feat Emmit still shouldn't be considered the greatest running back of all time? Is this because Payton is dead and people (- Americans) are stuck in the past or over nostalgic? I don't know how you could argue against him. He's done it all.

I'm not seeing anyone else break this record, what with today's huge salaries and seemingly lack of heart from the players who's going to hang around 11-13 years and pound it out. No one.

Thoughts...?
 

sensei_hanson

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Walter Payton, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Eric Dickerson.

All four were better running backs than Emmit Smith.

How much heart does it take to pursue an NFL rushing record at the expense of a franchise? The Cowboys in are in the midst of a rebuilding process, yet they've seemingly been forced to watch Emmit hobble towards this mark rather than give the ball to Troy Hambrick, who is supposed to be the RB of the future. Emmit has hung around for 12 years, but the last two or three have been simply to pad stats and catch Sweetness.

Emmit is a great back, a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and one of the most gifted offensive players to play in the NFL over the past decade. But he's not in the upper echelon saved for the running back's I mentioned above. He was a key part of an offense that had an excellent QB in Aikman and a superb WR in Michael Irvin.
 

knvb

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Tony Dorsett in his prime or Emmit Smith in his prime? Like Sensei said he's just been padding his stats for the last 5 years. Emmit was phenomenal in the mid- 90's.
 

Dapotayto

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It's really too bad that Sanders decided to give up the game. If he hadn't then this thread would be, as y'all like to say, moot
 

dirty daddy

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emmitt vs. tony

If I were building a team around one of the two in their prime, there is no doubt I would pick-up Dorsett. Few had better hands and breakaway speed coming out of the back feild.

I would even go as far as saying that I would pick Faulk before Smith.

Sayers, OJ and Marcus Allen are also names that should be mentioned when pondering this topic.

Food for thought.

DD
 

john

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The only problem you have when comparing Emmit to the other greats is everyone harps on the fact Emmit played behind an all pro line for at least 6-8 of those years in the 90's! The 'what if's' surround Barry Sanders and others where as the Bulldog was blessed with a great O-Line while others weren't!

Personlly, Emmit had it all...........power, enough speed, and durability which when all added up makes him one of the all time best! But I would take yards per carry as a way to measure who is the all time greatest back!

Cheers,

John
 

5bigtoes

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Payton's the best in my books

I have to say my favorite back is #34 in your program, Walter "Sweetness" Payton. I loved watching him run! Everytime he touched the ball, something big was bound to happen. I was glad he got his Super Bowl ring and sad when he past.

I like Sanders was great too, but in a different way. If Sanders was around and did not retire, I think Emmitt would still be chasing the record and never actually get it. Sanders would have easily broken the record.

I love to watch Dickerson run, up right, fast, smooth, speed, fast...
every piece of protective equipment and still a great runner. Best years served as an LA Ram.

Brown was great. Power, speed, he had it all. A great talent, retired too early and could also have set the standard very high. Brown was too c0cky and full of himself.

I like Dorsett better than Smith. Tony was a great back for the Cowboys when Roger, Tom et al where in town.

I could probably list another 5 or 6 backs I like better than Smith, but you have to give the man his dues....
 

knvb

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I guess I'm just to big a modern day Cowboys fan.

By the sounds of it for all the rings and records Smith has racked up he would make half of anyone's top 10. That's shocking to me. I guess it goes back to the debate old vs the new days. Would Payton, Dorsett et al fair as well as if they were running against guys like Ray Lewis a 350 pound lineman who could run the 40 faster than some receivers or had to deal with all the "West Coast" offence and dump passes? I doubt it.

I'm not saying Smith is the best, but most of you, by the sounds of it, are treating him like the fat kid who got picked last for dodge ball.
 

Jinky

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Would Payton, Dorsett et al fair as well as if they were running against guys like Ray Lewis

You seem to be under the impression thst those guys played in leather fcuking helmets.

Barry Sanders looked better losing yards than Emmit looked gaining them.

Payton was the best, pure and simple.
 

Balsa

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Sanders was the best ever. Look at the teams he was on and the numbers he put up. He would have crushed the record if he had of kept playing. All those others were great also but they played on good teams aswell. Sanders was the only weapon and nobody could stop him. Put him on the Cowboys with the O'Line they had and he would have rushed for 2000 yds a season.
 

Captain Shamrock

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John Riggins was better than all of them..........


Seriously, it is very hard to compare different eras as we know BUT Barry Sanders was the best one on one running by far. Jim Brown was playing against a lot of slow and small white guys. He was a lot stronger and faster than most, so he piled up yards against weaker opponents. Sanders was pure magic when he got going. Payton was pretty damn close though. Tony Dorsett was super too. Too many names here but Sanders would be my choice.

Captain
 

sillyrabbit

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Surprised

I too am surprised by the lack of respect for Smiths talent, but it is the same debate in every other sport..

Jordan vs Wilt
Howe vs Gretzky
Williams vs Bonds

we will never beable to compare players from differant eras or differant situations.. personally I think Lemieux is more talented then Gretzky, which in this case makes for a good comparison, Gretzky played on one of the best teams of all time, Lemieux did not... Gretzky had a great supporting cast for his 215 pt season record, Lemieux got 199 with Rob Brown.. Same can be said for Smith but in the reverse.. Gretzky is considered the best player ever despite the amazing team (and they won a cup without him in 1990) but Smith has an amazing team as well and it is used to downplay his abilities and his records...

being a Cowboys fan I would take Smith over Dorsett anyday, and yes he did benefit from playing on good teams but he was one of the reasons they were so good

and as for Smith just hanging around hurting the Cowboys and padding stats, well say what you will but Hambrook isnt hte back of the future for the Cowboys, if he was why were they going to draft a RB in the first round this past year...

Personally I think Bo would have been the best ever , olympic speed and run you over!!
 

ParkHead

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Emmitt deserves a lot of credit, he has the record and that means something. He did year after year without any serious injuries. However give me Barry Sanders with a good line in front of him and he would still be playing. He made Detroit a crap team scary to play against. I'll say Barry then Faulk simply because of his recieving game.
 

halfvolley

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Its got to be Sanders!

I'm sorry I didn't tap into this thread earlier as it is a great topic.

My vote has to go to Sanders with Payton a very close second. I agree that Dorsett was better than Emmitt as well. With an offensive line Emmitt had and all the other weapons he had huge holes to hit gaining yards like crazy.

Best explosive speed would be Payton.
Best for creating something out of nothing Sanders.
Best for using their blocks properly Dorsett.
Best for jumping on the shoulders of your teammates Emmitt.

My faves to watch have to be Bettis and if Vick wasn't a quarterback he'd break all these records in five years. :D
Love that guy!
 

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