Jan. 2, 1994: The Day Emmitt Smith Carried America's Team

Andy SimpsonAnalyst IMay 28, 2009

4 Oct 1997:  Emmitt Smith #22 of the Dallas Cowboys runs with the ball  as teammate Larry Allen #73 sets up to block Corey Widmer #90 of the New York Giants during a game at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Cowboys 2

You could say Emmitt Smith carried the Dallas Cowboys, better known as America's Team, many times over the course of his Hall of Fame career.

I was born a fan of America's Team, so I never had the moment that made me a fan. On Jan. 2, 1994, however, I became a fan forever.

The Cowboys won their first Super Bowl since my diaper years following the 1992 season.  Going in to the final day of the 1993 season, Dallas stood at 11-4 and trailed the Giants for the division lead.

That January day at the Meadowlands, the Cowboys jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead.

Then, POP!

With 1:58 left in the first half, Smith's shoulder separated on a brutal tackle by Greg Smith.  Early in the second half, the Giants had tied the game at 13-13.

Knowing this was the game the Cowboys had to have to secure a home playoff game, Smith begged the trainers to get him on the field.  He couldn't lift his arm above his chest, so the trainers taped it to his side and covered the shoulder with extra knee pads.

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Every time Emmitt fell, Nate Newton or teammate pulled him up and put him back in the huddle.  I never understood "team" until those moments.

Smith finished with 229 yards, touching the ball on nine of 12 plays on the game-winning drive, including the final five.

When Eddie Murray kicked the game-winning field goal with 6:43 left in overtime, I remember the pride and inspiration more than the thrill of victory.

And I remember how I will always long to be a part of an effort like that, even if it's just from the bleachers.