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Thursday, August 5, 2010
Too Short For A Column

Here are eight things we learned about Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith while shooting his "Homecoming" (Thursday, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN) in Pensacola, Fla.:

  1. As a boy, Smith would spend long hours by himself in the park next to his grandmother's house, pretending to be the men he idolized.
  2. His dad was on the chain gang during his high school games. When son moved the chains, Dad moved the chains.
  3. This is what he wore when he arrived in Dallas as a rookie draft pick. Yes. Yes, he did.
  4. Smith was meticulous -- anal, even -- about everybody carrying out his assignment until the whistle. Once, Smith came back to the sideline after a circuitous, preposterous, mouth-dropping touchdown run. Wide receiver and teammate Michael Irvin was the first to greet him after it, and he was delirious.

    "Oh, man!" Irvin said. "That was one of the greatest runs I've ever seen anybody make! The moves! The vision! Unbelievable, man, unbelievable!"

    But Smith wasn't smiling. In fact, he was burning hot.

    "How did you see all that?" he yelled at Irvin. "You were supposed to be ahead of me blocking!"
  5. He may have won the 2006 "Dancing with the Stars" title, but now he hates to dance. Abhors it. You can't drag him out on the dance floor now with a team of Caterpillar tractors. We tried.
  6. This is how good Smith was in high school: His offensive coordinator at Escambia High School, Jimmy Nichols, was offered a $25,000 Nissan Maxima to deliver him to a certain college football powerhouse. Here's his answer.
  7. In practice, Smith sometimes closed his eyes when he was handed the ball so that he could develop his other senses for tacklers. It sounded weird to us, too.
  8. Smith is the black Dick Vermeil. He'll cry at a Chevy commercial. He cried often and plenty during our night in Pensacola. One of the most poignant times, though, was when he discussed breaking the record of his hero, Walter Payton.
  9. See all of Rick Reilly's Too Short for a Column. More random mind dumps from the brain of Rick Reilly. Go Fish! Be sure to check out Rick's Life of Reilly.