What do a cowboy and an alligator have in common?
Well, Emmitt Smith for one.
My NFL team is the Dallas Cowboys, and one of my all-time favorite Cowboys is Emmitt Smith, so thank you very much Florida for giving him to us.
Emmitt Smith was on the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s. Jimmy Johnson and Norv Turner built that offense around Emmitt Smith. Troy Aikman's and Michael Irvin's career statistics are not nearly as high as they could have been because Smith was the workhorse.
I wonder if Jerry Jones saw what Emmitt Smith did after a year or two, and made it his personal goal to make Smith the all-time rushing leader for the National Football League.
Smith was one of the quickest backs the NFL had ever seen.
He was getting through that hole into the next level faster than anyone. He wasn't going to outrun you into the end zone like a sprinter, but before a linebacker could blink, Smith was right in front of him.
He was like a Kirby vacuum cleaner. He would last forever. That's how durable he was.
Smith wasn't a flashy cutter like Barry Sanders or LaDainian Tomlinson. He just ran the ball time after time and didn't get hurt.
He left Florida a year early because they hired Steve Spurrier, who had a pass-first mentality, to be the head coach.
Well, it paid off because he was an NFL MVP, a Super Bowl MVP, and a three-time Super Bowl champion.
Smith lead the league in rushing four times and was Offensive Rookie of the Year. He and Jerry Rice are the only non-kickers to score 1,000 points.
Smith is the all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards, while playing 15 years with the Cowboys and Cardinals.
I don't think that record will ever be broken.
Think about it.
Today's NFL is more focused on the passing game than ever. To be that big of a back, you'd have to have a running back that makes up your entire offense.
Plus, most backs don't last that long. LaDainian Tomlinson was really expected to do it, but he won't do it now, not after having such a disappointing season last year with just 730 rushing yards.
Tomlinson has 12,490 rushing yards, which is 5,865 yards short of the record. Tomlinson will be 31 on June 23, and is definitely running out of gas. I don't think he'll break it.
Plus, Emmitt Smith was a back who played every down. Today, almost everyone has a third-down back. Tomlinson had Darren Sproles or Michael Turner running with him.
That means fewer carries for backs today, so I just don't think any running back will be that durable, or that dominant, while splitting carries with another player.
Smith retired with 18,355 rushing yards, 164 rushing touchdowns, a 4.2 yards-per-carry average, and a spot in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.
He will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this coming August.
He was also inducted into the Gators Ring of Honor and the College Football Hall of Fame.
Without a doubt, he is the best running back the SEC ever gave the National Football League.