Emmitt Smith was the Cowboys number 1 draft pick in the 1990 draft following an All-American career at the University of Florida. Emmitt wasted little time in proving his value with the Cowboys by gaining 937 yards his Rookie season and scoring 11 TDs. Emmitt has since led the league in Rushing 4 times, been the leagues MVP and the Super Bowl MVP. Emmitt is not limited to rushing only. As of the end of the 2001 season, he was 4th on the Cowboys all-time reception list with 470 catches. That number continues to grow in the midst of the 2002 season.
His contribution to the Cowboys' success can be seen in the club's 92-23 mark (including playoffs) when he carries the ball 20-or-more times a game and 60-17 record (including playoffs) when he rushes for 100 yards. The century mark has become a big number in Smith's career, having rushed for 100 yards in 147-of-271 games dating back to high school (45-of-49 at Pensacola (FL) Escambia High School, 25-of-34 at the University of Florida and 77-of-188 at Dallas, including playoffs). Included in Smith's club-record 70 regular season 100-yard rushing games are 11 of the top 15 performances in team history and 18 games with over 150 yards (the fifth highest total of 150-yard games in NFL history). In NFL annals, Smith's 70 100-yard rushing games rank third all-time behind Walter Payton (77) and Barry Sanders (76).
One reason Smith has become such a workhorse in the Dallas offense over the years has been his ability to answer the bell at game time, starting 186 of a potential 188 games with Dallas including playoffs. The only two missed starts of his career due to injury came in the season finale at the N.Y. Giants on Dec. 24, 1994 and in a Nov. 14, 1999 game at Texas Stadium against the Green Bay Packers.
With a 109 yards on 24 carries effort on Sunday, October 27, 2002 in Dallas against the Seattle Seahawks, Emmitt Smith became the all time NFL career-rushing leader. Emmitt also extended his NFL record for rushing touchdowns to 150. Midway through his 13th season, Smith has 16,743 career yards surpassing Walter Payton's 16,726 yards set after his 13th season in 1987. Walter Payton's entire career yardage was as a Chicago Bear and Emmitt Smith's entire career yardage has been as a Dallas Cowboy ... an interesting fact in modern day professional football.
As Smith's glorious Cowboys career winds down, it is time to give praise to one of the greatest, yet most under appreciated, running backs in NFL history.