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Emmitt Smith discusses charity and Dallas Cowboys in Q&A

By Taylor Mitchell
May 5, 2013 at 12:05 a.m.

Former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith smiles during an interview at the Super Bowl XLIV media center. The NFL Hall of Famer will speak in Victoria on Tuesday night.

As a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he has rushed for more yards in the NFL than anyone else, won three Super Bowls and also won "Dancing with The Stars" in 2006.

He's one of the greatest Dallas Cowboys players of all time, and he'll be in Victoria on Tuesday night.

Emmitt Smith will give a motivational speech as part of the 2nd annual "Speaking of Sweat Equity" Inspirational Speaker Series on Tuesday night at the Faith Family Church Auditorium. The event is sponsored by the Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity.

"I just want to try and inspire people," Smith said.

Before he came to Victoria, Smith took time to talk with the Victoria Advocate and answer a few questions:

Q: How did you get involved with Habitat for Humanity?

A: I got involved years ago with Habitat for Humanity in a program out of Orlando for a friend of mine. I haven't done a whole lot with Habitat, but I happened to do one down in Orlando, and this group reached out to a marketing firm requesting me to come down and do some work down there with this particular event.

Q: What are you doing nowadays?

A: Nowadays, I find myself very busy doing commercial real estate construction, building roads and bridges, being a father and running a charitable organization.

Q: What allowed you to play at such a high level of football for such a long time?

A: I would say it's God's grace and mercy, for one. I've been able to play healthy most of my career, which helped me on the football field perform at the level I needed to perform at. I also trained and prepared for those years and prepared myself as if I was going to battle, so to speak. So I conditioned myself fairly well, and I was self-motivated. I didn't rest on having years of success. I put that success behind me quickly and thought about what I needed to do next.

Q: How much did playing with great players like Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Darryl "Moose" Johnson help lead you to that individual success?

A: Anytime when you have players of that caliber on your ball club, it helps diversify and creates a balance you need to have offensively. Just like anything else in life, you need to have balance. Too much work and not enough play wears you out, and in our case, talking about football, not being able to run the football kind of hurts the passing game. Not being able to pass the ball hurts the running game. So, it goes hand in hand. Having talented players like Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Darryl Johnson and many others afforded me the opportunity to do what I did.

Q: What was it like playing for Jimmy Johnson compared to other coaches?

A: Jimmy was a proven winner. He knew how to get the best out of players. He knew how to motivate players; he knew how to push their right buttons and get the best out of them. He was a great leader, a great motivator and a great communicator, too. I loved him. I enjoyed playing for him.

Q: What is the difference in preparing for a football game compared to "Dancing with the Stars?"

A: The difference would be in football I was doing that my whole life. Football became second nature to me. Going on the show "Dancing with the Stars" wasn't quite as second nature to me. So, being exposed to the possibility of not performing at my peak level and not looking good in the middle of the performances was something I had to overcome mentally. Taking the things I learned playing football and applying them to "Dancing with the Stars" is what I did, and understanding how to prepare myself really helped me with "Dancing with the Stars."

Q: What are your thoughts on the new rule in the NFL that says a running back is not allowed to lower their head while running with the ball?

A: Well, I understand why the rule is there and why they're trying to protect players. But I think it's kind of a catch-22 rule. It's a rule that really may not apply in this particular case. I mean, you're asking guys that have to sacrifice their bodies to get an extra yard so his team can have a first down or run the clock out, and you're trying to tell them he can't lower his head to fight for that extra yard. It will be interesting to me to see how they police that rule. The referees already have their hands full policing everything else on the field, let alone a running back lowering his head.

Q: What do you think the Cowboys need to do to get back to being an annual Super Bowl contender like they were when you were playing?

A: It's hard to say what they need to do to be one annually, but I think one of the things we need to do is upgrade our offensive line. We need to protect the quarterback a lot better, but we also need to show that balance that we showed in the '90s. I think if we can show that now, we can probably increase our chances of making the playoffs and also doing well in the playoffs.

Q: With offenses throwing the ball so much more in today's game, do you think your career rushing record will ever be broken?

A: Yes, I think somebody will one day come up and break my record just like I was able to come up and break Walter Payton's record. There were a lot of folks who thought that record would never be touched. I would be very naive to think this record would stand forever.

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