Emmitt Smith - A New Rushing Record
A New Rushing Record
On November 3, 2002, Smith broke the record in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. So far that season, he had averaged only 63.9 yards per game, and he needed 93 to break the record. According to S.L. Price in Sports Illustrated, Seahawks defensive lineman Chad Eaton said during the coin toss, "You're not going to get it today on us." Eaton was wrong—by the fourth quarter, Smith was just 13 yards short of the record. When he broke the record. Price wrote, "The game stopped, he saw his mother's face and wept, kissed his wife, Pat, and their three kids, hugged former teammate Daryl Johnston and wept again." The players took a five-minute break, and when the game resumed, Smith played hard, finishing the day with 109 yards on 24 carries. Payton's son Jarrett told Price that Smith was so similar to his father that if the record had to be broken, he was glad Smith was the one to do it.
Despite his record, Smith was battling assessments that said he was too old to keep playing and that he had lost his power, according to Price. However, Smith explained to Price, "Don't tell me I should quit because of my age. That's what makes this frustrating. You have to know who you are. I know who I am."
Smith's future in Dallas is uncertain. In an article posted on the Cowboys Web site, new Dallas coach Bill Parcells told Nick Eatman that Smith's $9.8 million salary was expensive for the team, and commented, "I am certainly aware of what Emmitt Smith has accomplished. This is a thing that we'll have to… discuss at a later time. I think we'll have to talk about that…. But, obviously, there will be changes, there's no doubt about that."
When Smith is not playing football, he frequently donates his time to helping sick children. He receives frequent requests from sick children who want to meet him. He told Attner, "You try to do the best you can and meet as many as time allows. You know they aren't physically able, and you aren't sure how long they are going to be on this earth." He expressed surprise that out of all the people they could see, they choose to meet him, and said he is glad he can make them happy. He told Attner, "I want them to touch me and feel me and let me cuddle them, so they know I am a person, not some kind of myth."
In the mid-1990s, Smith established Emmitt Smith Charities, Inc., which provides food and other necessities to poor families, and also provides toys to poor children. Dallas running backs coach Joe Brodsky told Attner, "I credit his upbringing for the way he conducts himself. When he talks about his feelings for others, he means it." Dallas safety James Washington said that Smith's loving relationship with his mother is probably part of this. "You can see Emmitt is truly loved. It is real neat to see."
Smith is proud that he has spent his entire football career with the Cowboys. He told the Sports Illustrated for Kids reporter that he wanted to be remembered as "a guy who came to work every day. A guy who didn't take a lot of days off. Dependable, durable, but also smart."