Emmitt Smith thinks all-time rushing mark will be "approached"

In less than three weeks, former Cowboys (and Cardinals) running back Emmitt Smith will be memorialized for all posterity in Canton.  His first-year-of-eligibility enshrinement was a no-brainer, given that he holds the NFL’s all-time rushing record, with 18,355 yards.

And while LaDainian Tomlinson is the closest active player with a bit less than 6,000 yards to go (which equates to roughly half of his career rushing output to date), Smith believes that the record will some day be “approached.” 

Not necessarily broken, but “approached.”

I do believe it will be approached,” Smith told Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  “I would be naive to
think that it could be not approached, because, hey, no one actually
thought that Walter Payton’s record could be approached.  Here I am, in
2002, ended up breaking that record and extended it out to 18,000-plus
yards.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you the record is not going to
be approached or broken, but I do know this:  It’s going to take an
awful lot to get there, because I know what it took for me to get there. 
It’s not easy.”

Still, we think that Smith’s record is safe.  Even with an 18-game season, few modern running backs display the durability that Smith demonstrated.  Moreover, more and more teams are using two or more backs (Smith’s Cowboys now use three), which dilutes the opportunities for any one of them to get on the sustained pace necessary to knock off Smith.

So we’ll be shocked if anyone gets within sniffing distance of Smith’s record at any point in the foreseeable future.  Though we’re not ready to proclaim the mark an DiMaggio-style achievement that likely never will be surpassed, it’s far closer to the Yankee Clipper’s 56-game hitting streak than any other NFL record currently on the books, with maybe the exception of Brett Favre’s all-time interception record.

62 responses to “Emmitt Smith thinks all-time rushing mark will be "approached"

  1. ya i think thats a record thatd be pretty difficult in this day and age. running backs are more expendable than ever and i just dont think these guys can have the longevity of rbs of the past that it would take to hit some of these marks

  2. Please lets be honest…..if Barry hadn’t retired prematurely then Emmitt would still be trying to play catch up.

  3. Now we know that Emmit’s record is safe, since whenever Emmit opens his mouth, he sure doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. This coming from a Dallas fan.
    If the trend continues where running backs are being used in more of split system, that will mean longer careers for many of them. Running backs see more wear and tear than any other position. If they are getting less carries, that should translate into longer careers, which in turn means either more yards, or the approximate same amount of yards, just spread over a longer time span.

  4. Even if a back gets 2000 yards for 9 seasons he wouldnt break that record its gonna take a great back to reach that rec

  5. How about Favre’s starting streak? Idiot. Peyton Manning would have to play until 2014 without missing a game to beat it. And that’s if Favre doesn’t playing in 2010, which we all know he will.

  6. I’d say Favre’s consecutive-starts record is probably more untouchable.
    The amazing thing about Emmitt’s record is that it represents a combination of incredible talent, incredible durability, and incredible dedication.
    CJ and AP certainly have the talent; only time will tell if they have the durability or longevity. Maybe MJD could be that guy. Time will tell.
    That said, numerous other runners have demonstrated ridiculous talent, but were unable to sustain it to the level that Emmitt did. Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, Eric Dickerson….incredible players, all of them.
    But Emmit stands alone above them all as the one player who struck the perfect combination of productivity and longevity.
    Will it happen again? Almost certainly. But if and when that does happen, in no way will it diminish Emmit’s accomplishments, any more than Emmit’s record diminished the accomplishments of Walter Payton and Jim Brown.
    You don’t have to be “the best ever” forever and ever. To do it just once in a lifetime is an incredible feat, accomplished by only a handful of individuals. It’s only fair that at some point, somebody else is afforded that same opportunity.

  7. I’m a Packer fan and even I think that Favre comment is a low blow. While no one may approach the INT record, no one will approach his Consecutive Games played stat either along with possibly a few others. Might as well say no one may challenge Jamarcus Russell for the biggest bust ever.

  8. NFLNetwork did a “Top 10” on “Records that will never be broken”.
    10: Derrick Thomas 7 sacks in a game
    9: Otto Graham 10 straight championship games
    8: ’72 Dolphins perfect season
    7: Tom Landry coaches 29 straight seasons
    6: 49ers 18 straight road game wins
    5: Hutson leading league in TD catches 8 seasons
    4: Buccaneers’ 26-game losing streak
    3: Favre consecutive games
    2: Johnny Unitas’ 47 straight games w/ TD pass
    1: Don Shula 347 career wins.
    10, 8, 6, 4 and possibly 3 (P. Manning) may approach or break. I would put 5 and 2 player records as more difficult and unattainable than DiMaggio’s or Smith’s. So where does Emmitt fit into this list?

  9. Brett Favre:
    70,000 passing yds (671 yards away)
    500TD (3 TD away)
    10,000 ATT (189 away)
    300 Games (11 away)
    285 Consecutive starts including playoffs
    and….317 INT (1.1 INT a game)

  10. Its still Walters record as far as Im concerned. Just like the homerun record belongs to Aaron. Smiths a goof.

  11. you could have mentioned Favre’s TD record, his yards record, his consecutive starts record, but why play nice when you can take the low road and rally up dozens of completely unrelated comments, right?

  12. “it’s far closer to the Yankee Clipper’s 56-game hitting streak than any other NFL record currently on the books”
    Unitas throwing a TD pass in 47 straight games. That’s the equivalent of the hitting streak. No question.
    Imagine a QB throwing a TD pass in every game for 3 straight seasons (48 games). That’s what it’ll take.
    The best QB of this era (Manning) has never even made it through one season throwing a TD in every game. He’s had 13 years to try. Brady’s record shattering 2007 campaign say him throw 0 TDs in a game as well.
    Even one of the greatest (or the greatest) statistical QB of all time, Marino, only made it as far as 30 games.
    It’s an amazing feat, and even more impressive when you consider that Unitas did it in a time where there were no illegal contact, pass interference, or roughing the passer penalties. If it weren’t for the continued pampering of QBs and the passing game, I’d say this record would never be broken.

  13. Emmitt Smith is a winner and will always be the best running back ever. Nobody will catch his stats due to the new running back system of 2 or more backs splitting carries in a game. Even if they extend the season by a game it will never be beat.

  14. ” Though we’re not ready to proclaim the mark an DiMaggio-style achievement that likely never will be surpassed, it’s far closer to the Yankee Clipper’s 56-game hitting streak than any other NFL record currently on the books, with maybe the exception of Brett Favre’s all-time interception record.”
    True, and Too Funny! LOL!

  15. cowboys dont use 3 lead rbs, florio. choice only sniffs the field if the other two get hurt.
    they always say they’ll run that “razorback” wildcat thing for him. rarely happens though

  16. Darrell Green had an interception in 19 straight seasons, nobody will get near that record

  17. Emmitt Smith is a tool. I still don’t forgive Barry Sanders for letting him have the record. Sanders was 10 times the runner as Smith. If Smith had played for the Lions he would have, in his words, been Blowed Up on each down. Playing your whole career behind one of the best O Line’s of all time with a HOF QB and WR sure helps. I hope he understands that. Sure he belongs in the HOF but he should not have that record.

  18. Thank you Emmitt For all you have done for the Cowboys(favorite team over 30 years).Records that won’t be touch.Nolan Ryan all time strike outs.Kurt Warner 300 yards or more passing games.Richard Petty all time wins.(He called THE KING for a reason)That’s just 3 examples that won’t be touch.Go Cowboys let the bashing begin!!!!!!!

  19. “hey, no one actually thought that Walter Payton’s record could be approached. ”
    Sure we did. In fact, you can thank the Lions for sucking so bad they drove Barry Sanders from football, or Walter’s record would have been ‘approached’ by somebody else.

  20. Gretzky’s season records for goals, points and all-time points records will never be broken.
    As for the rushing record, it would take 12 seasons of at least 300 carries and 1,500 rushing yards to break it. No one is going to come close.
    The biggest factor is not the “RB by committee” approach. It’s a more practical reality – no team is going to invest in a RB for that long at the price it will take. They will churn through 2 or 3 RBs in that time, never allowing one RB to last that long in the first place. RB has become a very replaceable part.

  21. “If the trend continues where running backs are being used in more of split system, that will mean longer careers for many of them.”

    No, it means less of a career for many of them. Rookies get drafted every year in the second round and later that would be cheaper alternatives than the veterans.

  22. Favre’s career INT record will be hard to break but his INT’s in the playoffs and INT in playoff OT’s look to be locks for immortality.
    You got to hand it to him, with such piss poor playoff stats, you might think employment would be hard to find but yet there is a sucker out there willing to bet on him based on a performance that is over 14 years ago.

  23. You’ve gotta allow the fact that Emmitt played behind a great o-line, for a great team, to get as many yards as he did. That can’t be held against him.
    It’s a sensational acheivement and unlikely to be broken in our lifetimes, if at all. If the most approached back is a listless Tomlinson, who would need four fifteen hundred yard seasons to do it, Emmitt can relax a little.
    The reason the Favre interception point was raised in the original post is that statline is realistically the one Peyton Manning won’t break by the time he’s finished owning regular seasons.

  24. I am saying this as a loyal Cleveland Browns fan!
    Emmitt Smith is not even a 1/3 of the man Walter Payton was!!! Or will ever be!
    Sweetness the greatest of all time!
    F**k Emmitt “If it weren’t for my offensive line” Smith!

  25. Manning will break a lot of Favre’s records, including consecutive games played. Not the INTs though.

  26. Sure, the record will be “approached” – like a drunk college freshman @ Ben’s house.
    Evidently, it took Emmit 15yrs to acheive the accomplisment whereas Ben would get a 15 yr term in prison as a result of his.. just sayin..

  27. Don’t estimate Pocket Hercules of the Jax/L.A. Jags. I see him approaching 20,000 yards by 2022.

  28. I love all the “Emmit is a fraud”, “It was all because of his O line”, and “If so and so had played with Dallas” comments. Well if I was 7 foot tall, I’d be retired from the NBA now. And to all those giving sole credit to the O line, I’m sure you will be calling for their immeadiate inclusion into the HOF.
    Emmitt Smith was a warrior. He wasn’t the biggest, or fastest, or most elusive RB, but he had great vision and unquestionable toughness (over 160 against the Giants WITH a separated shoulder when Dallas had to have him). He had a knack of understanding when to go on and when to get down.
    A lot of great RBs have come and gone, but only one has busted the 18,000 yard mark. A few years ago, it seemed as if LT might approach it someday. Think that happens now? Someone will likely get close in the future, but it’s a ways off.

  29. Nice, take an appropriate comment from Emmit, and ruin it with a Brett reference.
    I hate the Cowboys, but appreciate Emmit Smith.
    I hate the Vikings, but am a Brett Farve fan.
    Report what is at hand, not what you think.

  30. #
    # Flipadelphia says: July 19, 2010 11:51 PM
    Please lets be honest…..if Barry hadn’t retired prematurely then Emmitt would still be trying to play catch up.

  31. with how running backs are used today and the cry babies that just want money its highly doubtful.
    although I cant stand emmit simply because he was a cowboy, the guy played with injuries. he didnt sideline himself if he got injured with the game on the line. he played and he played with 100% force regardless of injury.
    players today are all pussies and the soccer moms today and doing nothing by bringing up even worse pussies….
    so the record is safe for a long time…….

  32. Just so you know, the word “memorialized” implies that Emmitt is dead. Terry Bradshaw?… he can be memorialized, but Emmitt is very much alive.

  33. @ Big Tex – whatever dude!
    Jim Brown and Walter did it in their primes – this fella stretched it out, to get the record!
    Then when he got it, it was so lame! He’s lame, get over it!
    Cowboy fans know it, that’s what make it even worse! Walter Payton had slaw for an O’line and he still got the record.
    Don’t get mad over the obvious, Emitt Smith was never a warrior, he was a benefactor of great offensive line! PERIOD!

  34. nevegreg says:
    July 20, 2010 9:47 AM
    Nice, take an appropriate comment from Emmit, and ruin it with a Brett reference.
    I hate the Cowboys, but appreciate Emmit Smith.
    I hate the Vikings, but am a Brett Farve fan.
    Report what is at hand, not what you think.
    Pompous much?

  35. If LT hadn’t gotten hurt a couple years ago, he’d be close enough now that he’d keep hanging on just to top Emmit’s record, much like the way Bruce Smith kept playing soley to break Reggie White’s sack record. LT will be done after this year though, and I don’t see anyone approaching Emmit’s record anytime soon.

  36. FYI, Barry Sanders didn’t “retire prematurely” Barry Sanders QUIT. And after he quit, the Lions had to sue him for the bonus money that he refused to return. What a class act.

  37. “Standin on the sideline, Stu and I was watchin some guys get hit. I’m tellin you, it made me feel good that I done had retired already.”

  38. Congrats to Emmitt for a great career. But lets be honest here. He had one of the most stacked teams in history to play on and was behind one of the best O-lines ever for his entire career.
    Smith, despite the rushing record, will never be as good as Gale Sayers, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, or Eric Dickerson.
    There are a few records that’ll be tough to reach. It’s true that this is one of them, but it shouldn’t have been Smith. Barry was light years ahead of Smith. He must have been breathing the biggest sigh of relief when Barry retired prematurely. Otherwise, we’d be looking at a guy with well over 20,000 yards today, entirely gained on a team like Detroit. Wow!!!

  39. @Duan
    160+ with a separated shoulder against the New York Giants with the playoffs on the line. That’s NOT a warrior in your opinion? So what color is the sky in your world?

  40. Of course it will be approached.
    It’s like his hero Jimmy V once said:
    “Don’t quit. Don’t even quit.”

  41. For those of you saying that Barry Sanders should have taken the record, you’re stupid. Barry Sanders was a whiny *&$%#. He was on a terrible team, but still signed a big contract, and then walked away because it was “too tough” to be on a losing team. Why did he ever re-sign? He also holds the record for most plays for negative yardage. I completely agree that he would have almost certainly broken the record had he stayed in the league, but he didn’t. So any talk about him doing so is worthless and purely imaginary.
    Anyway, my real argument is with anyone who says Emmitt was simply a product of the offensive line. When you say things like this it just goes to show you how little you know about anything. Please check the stats of any and all RBs who saw playing time behind the same offensive line and compare them to Emmitt’s. Hell, check the first 2 games of 1993 with Emmitt out, as the SB Cowboys dropped both of them. One to the Bills who they had CRUSHED 6 months earlier, and to the Redskins who they DESTROYED with Emmitt later in the season. While he did BENEFIT from the line (obviously), he was a tremendously tough and skilled runner who used a terrific O-line to his benefit. Emmitt was also known as a terrific blocker, something that Sanders knew very little about.


  43. @ Big Tex – thanks for making that point,
    heck that shows you another angle! He was frail too! What injury has Payton ever have!? None, but a broken pinky toe!
    Walter Payton, crappy line, no injuires, still got the record.
    Emmitt Smith, super duper stakced team, injury prone, took 15 years to get the record! Lame!
    I’m sorry Tex, I know that’s your boy and he did help you get three super bowls, but I would have seen someone else get the record after sweetness!
    He stretched his career out to get the record, I’m sorry Tex – he’s lame, he is so lame!
    I respect you for defending your guy though.

  44. It amazes me how anyone can taint what is an incredible acheivement by an phenominal athlete. This wasn’t 50 or so years ago when the speed of defenses was slower and scheming was less intelligent. Emmitt Smith was a do it all back with durability, talent and toughness necessary to own the career rushing record, he flew past Walter, who was also a phenominal athlete himself.
    I think it was last season, Marion Barber hurt his finger or thumb and Jerry Jones was making not-so-masked statements to the effect him needing to toughen up. This was obviously a a guy used to having the NFL’s greatest running back who died for the cause, once he got hisself paid, that is.
    Whatever yardstick you want to measure, stats, consistancy, titles, Emmitt Smith has it all. You cannot knock the guy, for anything. I competitor and this generations Jim Brown, don’t undersell the guy.

  45. I am glad that so many commented on the cheap shot at Favre’s INT record. I have heard that there are a couple of other famous QBs who have a higher ratio of INTs to TDs but they just have not played as long. Favre’s consecutive starts is an amazing record and it should have gotten the ESPY. I am a huge tennis fan, but what is a match lasting three years to a record spanning 18 years! Favre was robbed! Manning may not set an INT record, but so far, Brett has never thrown an INT that lost a SB!!!!

  46. All this talk about Barry Sanders this and that and all the hate on Smith.
    So let me get this straight:
    People are hating on Emmit Smith who’s always been a class act, and defending Barry Sanders who quit on his team for no reason whatsoever.
    Is that right?

  47. Flipadelphia says: July 19, 2010 11:51 PM
    Please lets be honest…..if Barry hadn’t retired prematurely then Emmitt would still be trying to play catch up.
    And if the queen had balls, she’d be king.

  48. After seeing both backs play, Walter Payton was far better than Emmitt Smith.
    Walter Payton could block, pick up blitzes, ws a far better receiver, could throw a great option pass, and was devoted to his team.
    There were many years of Walter Payton’s career where the Bears were not very good and he had little blocking support. He earned many of the yards he gained on his own not just walking over ground cleared by blockers.
    Walter Payton had incredible flexibility that kept him from getting injured during his career.
    Emmitt Smith did not take the hits that Walter Payton did.
    Smith may have the record but he never will be considered as great an RB as Walter Payton. Nobody can ever dispute that.

  49. If ands and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry xmas.
    Emmitt was a stud and he has more rings than all you retarded eagles, browns, bears, lions, colts, and most of you other retards’ franchises that are knocking him have total.
    Don’t hate the player, hate the people that “would have” more yards than him IF….(bla bla bla).

  50. @ Bob Nelson, best post of the day!
    To all the folks hating on Barry Sanders, he did quit on his team – so I can’t argue that. But the RB position is one of the most physical positions in the game of football.
    So when people talk about Marion Barber becoming soft, I never seen Emmitt Smith run through tackles like Marion Barber, Marion Barber woke and understood that he better cut it down if he wanted to extend his career.
    If I am going to give Emmitt Smith credit for something it will be for Effort! Yes he did play with seperated shoulders and all that, so he played hurt! But take away Dallas’ All Pro, Perinneal Pro Bowl Offensive line – there would be no Emmitt Smith!?
    The Cowboys of the early 90’s were a good team, and let me reinterate this again! TEAM!They had complimentary pieces in place, but there was only one guy that would have shined on another team and that person was Michael Irvin. Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith would have been bust if they would have been drafted by different teams!
    Emmitt Smith – short, small, frail and slow! You see the ol’ ball coach didn’t try to keep him at Florida when he took over the program.
    Troy Aikman – thank god for Jimmy Johnson and that Offensive Line again, loved to hold on to the ball waaaaaaay too long, Michael Irvin made him look excellent!
    Sorry cowboy fans, if I see it – I gotta say it!

  51. Can’t deny that Smith was a great back, but Payton and Sanders were better.
    You could hold Barry to 10 carries 20 yards and then all of a sudden he’d break one for 70 and a TD.
    IMO the best all around back was Payton. He could do everything!!
    Sanders was the best rushing back and I’ll give Smith credit for being a tough back with longevity and nose for the endzone.

  52. I have now read one of the dumbest comments ever, the Emmitt Smith was “frail” comment. Emmitt Smith played 13 seasons in Dallas and missed a grand total of 7 games (2 during a contract hold-out). Show me “frail”. So many guys last 15 years in the NFL by being “frail”. The world is full of former “frail” RBs who scored 164 rushing TDs.
    And once again, if it was all due to the OL, then there should be a huge uproar to get Williams and Stepnoski and Newton and Tuneii in the HoF.
    And to simple_simon1
    Don’t give me Gale Sayers. Not in the league NEARLY long enough.

  53. It will be a hard record to break because of the increasingly common use of multiple backs (i.e., as a team concept, not as a set) or specialty backs…and, of course, because teams seem to realize more than ever the short shelf-life of an NFL back and seem more cutthroat about letting an old-timer go. The last several years Smith played, he wasn’t very good. The Cowboys–to their credit, I think–did what they could to help Smith get that record (and then promptly dumped him to the Cardinals). But to say that it could never be approached is silly. Anyone watching football during that era knows that Barry Sanders was going to obliterate that record, despite playing for a terrible o-line. Smith played for a super team with several o-lineman who were All-Pro, Pro Bowl, and future HOF players. In the end, of course Sanders didn’t stick with it and all of the speculation is meaningless…but most people who watched football at the time knew that Sanders had superior talent on an inferior team. The number of times football people–rooting for many different teams–have said to me, “Can you imagine what Barry would have been like with the Cowboys’ o-line?” says it all.

  54. Forget the shirt he wore for most of his career, Emmitt Smith was a baller and deserves all the recognition he gets. Anything else is conjecture and ultimately superfluous.

  55. wow i cant see how all these emmitt lovers think he is this great back???? put barry on dallas an emmitt on detroit an emmitt would still be chasing the record barry would have set years ago……. BAM!!!

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