It’s Official: Emmitt Smith Retires

Emotional Emmitt bids farewell (ESPN)

NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith retired Thursday, calling his 15-year career “a tremendous ride.” Smith, who starred for the Dallas Cowboys for 13 seasons and spent the last two years with Arizona, made the announcement at the Super Bowl — a fitting spot for a three-time champion. “I’ve given everything I can possible to the game, on and off the field,” Smith said.

Wearing a pinstripe suit — blue, of course — Smith thanked dozens of people from Pee Wee football to the Cardinals and every stop in-between. He broke down several times and had tears streaming down his face as he clutched his wife’s hand. “The memories that I have, the relationships that I’m taking away from the game are something dear and something I will take with me for the rest of my life,” he said. “I’m moving on to another chapter in my life and that’s a chapter I’m looking forward to.” Smith said he planned to pursue some business opportunities but vowed to stay close to the game and give something back to the fans.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, one of the many Smith thanked through tears, gave the best reason for the long list of salutations. “When you’ve established yourself as royalty, then you have to mention everybody,” Jones said. “That’s the price you pay.”

John Clayton confirms that, as fitting, Smith Will Retire a Cowboy

His retirement was at the right place and the right time. First, it was announced in Jacksonville near the home in Pensacola, Fla., where he was raised. Second, he announced that even though he spent the past two years in Arizona, he will retire a Dallas Cowboy. “It’s only fitting for me to leave the game of football and move on with my life, and retire as a Dallas Cowboy,” Smith said. “That is the plan and that is what is going to happen. I just want to say, it’s been a tremendous ride.”

[…]

“You don’t know how much this star really means to me,” Smith said, holding the Cowboys helmet and speaking to owner Jerry Jones. At 5-9½, and with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard draft, Smith was supposed to be a risk. Instead of a risk, the Cowboys gained a future Hall of Famer.
“I think (my career) has been one where I’ve given everything I could possibly give to the game,” Smith said.

[…]

Smith said he was willing to think about playing next year, but the Cardinals informed him that they wouldn’t offer him a contract. A couple of other teams called this week, but Smith didn’t want to move his family to a new NFL city.

In another month or two, he will sign a one-year contract with the Cowboys for the NFL minimum and then retire as a Cowboy.

Smith plans to get into broadcasting instead of coaching. He wants to support the game of football. Smith denied rumors that he would be involved in a group bidding to buy the Minnesota Vikings, saying there was no truth to it.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.