PFT looks at the 2010 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While in college at Florida, Emmitt Smith kept a list of his five professional goals at his home, according to Jeff Pearlman in the book Boys will be Boys. The list:
1. Lead NFL in rushing
2. NFL Rookie of the Year
3. Hall of Fame
4. NFL’s all-time leading rusher
5. Greatest running back ever!!!
Smith slipped in round one of the draft because of his forty time, but his incredible drive, ambition, and toughness helped him check off every tangible goal he set out for. We don’t think he’s the greatest running back ever, but he came far closer than anyone would have guessed.
Smith held out of his rookie training camp into September, and proved worth the wait. The Cowboys improved from 1-15 to 7-9 in Smith’s rookie year. Then the Super Bowl trophies started coming, with Smith’s relentless running proving to be the final piece to the Cowboys dynasty puzzle.
People will remember Smith’s incredible longevity, but his peak years early in his career were truly remarkable. From 1991-1995, Smith averaged 1,603 rushing yards, 17 TDs, and 55 catches per season.
Year-after-year, the 210 pounder was a running back committee unto himself, answering the bell from September through Dallas’ long playoff runs. Criticized later in his career as a me-first player, Smith left you no choice but to glorify him with his actions on the field.
On Saturday night, he’ll officially achieve the goal he first wrote down twenty years ago. In Emmitt’s mind, it was only a matter of time.