Smith’s selection will mean that the Dallas “triplets”, as he, Michael Irvin, and Troy Aikman were called during the 90’s when the trio led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl Championships in four years, will all be in professional football’s Who’s Who in Canton, OH. Needless to say it was an exciting and emotional time for the humble Smith.
“It’s just special. You don’t know exactly how you will feel until that moment. Although, you try to take in every second and every minute, every hour up to this time. Then when that opportunity comes and they call your name, you start reflecting over the people who have helped shape the foundation of who you are as a football player, who you are as a human being. And the people who have given you the opportunity to even do some of the things you’ve been able to do, and provided you an opportunity to play in a sport at this level that you’ve played your entire life for. It’s just an honor that I am able to be a blessing because people have blessed me.”
Emmitt was asked if he had ever dreamed of being the NFL’s leading rusher when he was a younger player. “You know probably why I never thought that much about going into the Hall of Fame is because I was so busy wanting to focus on the things that I needed to do from that point on to whenever God said that my career was going to be over. I just didn’t know what was going to happen. When I believed in that little giant that’s inside of me saying ‘I can’, coupled with the people I was able to play with. I just felt like at the end of my career, if I was there, all this would be added on to me. I just thank God for this moment because it is such a special moment. This is one that you don’t think about; I’d never thought about. Then when you add this cake, and the icing, and the ice cream on top of that, it makes it very special, it really, really does.”
The most emotional moment of Smith’s remarks came when he told a story about how someone once told him that his father was the best running back ever to come out of Pensacola, FL, but due to his mother getting very sick, he was never able to go to college, and never got his big chance. Tears welled up in his eyes as he talked of a conversation he had with his father after his name was officially called as a 2010 enshrinee in the Hall of Fame.
“We were sitting backstage and my father says to me, he says, ‘Son, I am proud of you. I had dreams of doing what you’re doing, but my mother got sick and I never did go to college. You’re living my dream, you’re living my dream.’ And all I could thing about at that time was I’m living your dream, I’m fulfilling my dream, and I am fulfilling God’s purpose for me. And you know so many things have to fall in place in order to even be in position to do some of the things we do. I mean the Cowboys were 1-15 the year before I got there. Who would have thought in four years we would have turned that thing around, and then to win the two Super Bowls back to back. Nobody really gave Jimmy (Johnson) or Jerry (Jones) a chance to turn that thing around so quickly, and to have been able to come in and just do my small part is really what we all strive for anywhere. Just to be the part of something great. And to be the person that Michael (Irvin) turned to, or Troy (Aikman) turned to, or that Nate (Newton), or the whole offensive line, and Darryl Johnston—God bless him because he’s sacrificed so much in terms of leading me up through the running ways, and taking on some guys twice his size for my little bitty behind! It’s just crazy because this is a moment that’s embraced by so many people, by so many people. Just so many people to be thankful for.”
He made many references to God during his comments, but really put an exclamation point on his thoughts when he addressed fellow nominee Jerry Rice. “I tell you Jerry, I’m not going to make any bones about it, but my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has pre-destined us to be here at this moment in time.” His comment drew strong applause, as many Christians were in attendance at the press conference. You could feel chills down your spine, and almost felt like you were listening to a servant delivering God’s message. It definitely was the highlight of the week, and won’t soon be forgotten by those in attendance.
Enshrinement into the NFL Hall of Fame could not have come to a more deserving former player. Congratulations, Emmitt, you earned your honor. Enjoy the ceremonies in August, and enjoy the fruits of your labors!