Emmitt Smith Retires From NFL - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/3/05-Jacksonville, FL

Emmitt Smith Retires From NFL

Emmitt Smith has announced his retirement after covering more ground than anyone in NFL history. The 35-year old has ended his 15-year career with 18,355 rushing yards and 164 touchdowns, both NFL records. He led the league in rushing three times and in touchdowns in three different seasons. Smith rushed for at least a thousand yards every year from 1991 to 2001. Smith spent his first 13 seasons with Dallas, helping the Cowboys to three Super Bowl championships. He says he intends to retire as a cowboy indicating he will sign a short term contract to allow that to happen. Smith spent the last two season with Arizona.

"It's been a tremendous ride," Smith said.  "It's one I've been very proud of and one that I'm happy with. I've given everything I can possible to the game, on and off the field.  The memories that I have, the relationships that I'm taking away from the game, are something dear and something I will take with me for the rest of my life. I'm moving on to another chapter in my life and that's a chapter I'm looking forward to."

"Emmitt has never forgot he was part of a team and what the team meant," said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.  "Your place in our franchise has always been secure."

"He's done everything possible that a running back could do," said former Cowboys safety and Emmitt teammate Darren Woodson.  "He's broken every record, he was a leader on and off the field, and the city of Dallas recognizes how special he was. Not only that, but the people of Phoenix started realizing how important he was to that team. He's always been a strong personality on and off the field."

Smith's announcement came in Jacksonville, the site of Super Bowl XXXIX this Sunday.  Several players involved with the big-time game gave their perspective on the big-time running back.

"He may go down as the best of all time," said New England running back Corey Dillon.  "There are a lot of backs that have come through this league, but for a guy like that to accomplish what he has, it's unheard of. I have a lot of respect for him. In high school and through my junior college years, I used to watch him. I've always admired him. He's one of the best."

"He never backed down," said Pepper Johnson, former linebacker and New England defensive line coach.  "I remember the one season where he had a bad shoulder against the Giants. You could see him fighting and gritting his teeth and grimacing on the sideline. But every time he lined up behind Troy Aikman, you never knew his shoulder was hurt. Those guys playing against him didn't know he was in so much pain because he didn't show it. He never let them know. That's the type of guy he is."

"I remember we played against him on a Monday night game the first year I played in Philadelphia," said  Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Hugh Douglas.  "I think it was a lead option. I tried to tackle him with one arm. He almost tore my arm off. I grabbed him. He kept running and almost tore my arm out of the socket. That was when everybody was saying that he was slowing down."

"He's such a low-key, classy individual," said New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, "and what he's been able to achieve hasn't been given just due. He's such an ambassador of the game. Football's been good to him, and I hope he reciprocates it by staying close to the game. I hope he doesn't completely walk away."

"Each time I look at Emmitt Smith," said New England Patriots defensive tackle Richard Seymour, "I think he exemplifies the things a professional athlete should be on and off the field. When we played the Arizona Cardinals this year, I told him what an inspiration he's been on my life, mentally and spiritually. All of the things that he stands for, I really believe in. I really can't put into words what he means to the National Football League. As good as a player as he was, I think he was an even better person. I really felt that everything he did was genuine."

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