Emmitt Smith: ‘Players Now Come Out Of College With A Lot More Hype’

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Emmitt Smith (credit: Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

Emmitt Smith (credit: Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

For John Feinstein, it feels like it’s been 15 minutes.

In reality, it’s been 24 years since Emmitt Smith was taken 17th overall in the 1990 NFL Draft.

“It doesn’t really seem like it’s been 24 years, but wow, time has flown,” Smith said on The John Feinstein Show. “The difference between today’s draft and the 1990 Draft is probably all the media surrounding the draft. Today, we have talk radio like you won’t freaking believe. You got like 900 television stations and media outlets right now that just study (and talk) completely about the draft. We didn’t have Twitter, Facebook or Instagram – social media wasn’t even thought of at that time. It’s completely different. I think players now come out of college with a lot more hype behind them and a lot more excitement behind them because of the media attention that they’re getting.”

Smith remembers his own draft day quite clearly.

“I was in Pensacola Beach in a condo with my family, thinking that I had a chance to be drafted by Tampa Bay considering that I was a Florida Gator and went to school in Gainesville,” Smith recalled. “I felt that Tampa needed a running back or something that could help the organization. And if I didn’t go there, I thought I had (a chance) to go to Seattle because Seattle, at the time, needed a running back. Outside of that, I didn’t have no clue where I would be drafted.”

As it turned out, Seattle took Miami defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy – now a Hall of Famer – third overall, and Tampa Bay took Alabama linebacker Keith McCants fourth overall.

Smith was left waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do. I was completely nervous. Finally, I got a call from the Dallas Cowboys, and it was one of the most amazing and exhilarating feelings. For a 20-year-old kid from Pensacola, Florida, to be drafted by the team he always wanted to play for, it was an amazing experience.”

Given that Smith won two MVPs and three Super Bowls, the Cowboys can probably say the same.

Now, however, the Cowboys probably wish Smith was 20 years old again. Smith probably does, too. The NFL’s all-time leading rusher is frustrated by Dallas’ refusal to commit to the running game.

“What bothers me the most is the lack of balance that I see,” Smith said. “Jason Garrett comes out of an offense very similar to the one that we ran when we were winning our Super Bowls. So I had this expectation that Jason would have a clear understanding of the balance that is needed and the commitment to the running game that’s needed. I’m not sure if he has the confidence in his team, but he needs to have that confidence in his team and develop that trust between his offensive line and his running backs.”

The Cowboys have just one playoff win since 1996.

“The bottom line,” Smith said, “is if you say that you’re going to have a balanced attack, then you need to be committed to running the football. No matter if it’s one yard here or two yards there, eventually you’re going to get to the point where you have four or five yards a carry. And I think that takes a lot of pressure off of Tony Romo. I think it takes a lot of pressure off of the offense, and I think it takes a lot of the pressure off of the defense as well.

“When you have that toughness on the offensive line as well as on the defensive line, you’re building a team that’s built from the inside-out – not from the outside-in. And I think the best way to win championships is to build from the inside-out.”

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