TEMPE, Ariz. -- Emmitt Smith returns to Dallas this weekend not knowing what to expect from former teammates and fans.
The running back who set the NFL record for career yards in 13 seasons with the Cowboys is now a member of the sputtering Arizona Cardinals.
He's gained 193 yards in 59 attempts, an average of 3.3 yards, on a mistake-prone team that limps into Texas Stadium on Sunday with a 1-3 record.
"It is what it is," Smith said after Wednesday's practice. "I'm trying to do the best that I can."
Some of his former Dallas teammates still have hurt feelings over a Sports Illustrated article that quoted Smith as saying he "felt like a diamond surrounded by trash" last season.
"Whatever I need to use to motivate me to have a good game, I'm going to use -- and I'm definitely going to use that," Cowboys defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban said.
Smith has apologized and insists the quote was taken out of context from a long, impassioned interview.
"The guy who wrote the article in Sports Illustrated did a good job of painting the picture that he wanted to paint," Smith said, "and that is all I'm going to say about that because I have no energy to try to resolve that issue whatsoever because I know where my heart was and I know what my statements were and I know what the intent was, and I know the way it was portrayed was not the way it was meant."
And then there are the fans.
"They may receive me as the enemy. They may boo me. I don't know," he said. "I can only hope that they will receive me with open arms. I'm coming in there to compete and try to win the game with my teammates. That's what we're coming in there for."
Bill Parcells' arrival as Cowboys' coach coincided with Smith's release. In his telephone conference interview with Dallas reporters, Smith said he would still be a Cowboy if Parcells had wanted him.
"I think he got what he wanted," Smith said, "and he's doing well with what he had. So, obviously, the decision was good for him."
Parcells said he respects Smith but won't be dragged into talking about the details of the running back's departure.
"They are trying to get me to say what I thought and this and that. It's really irrelevant at this point and time," Parcells said. "He's a competitor. He's a great football player and he's playing for the Arizona Cardinals. That's it. I pay his respects, and try to get my team ready."
Smith said he roots for the Cowboys (2-1) every weekend except this one.
"I'm not surprised at the success that they've had. They have a lot of talent on that ballclub," he said. "The defense has always been strong for the Cowboys, and I have a lot of respect for the guys over there. The offense is coming along. I think Quincy (Carter) has done a wonderful job. I watched them play the Giants and I thought he looked like a pro football player."
Smith's career rushing total is up to 17,355 yards, but they have been hard to come by on an Arizona team that has had to abandon the run in its three losses after falling behind.
"We've been consistently poor, consistently shooting ourselves in the foot, consistently making immature mistakes, consistently turning the football over," Smith said. "We've only played solid football in one game."
Smith lashed into his teammates in a post-game speech after a 38-0 home loss to Seattle. The next weekend, Arizona upset Green Bay 20-13. But last Sunday, the Cardinals were back to their bumbling ways in a 37-13 loss at St. Louis.
It's an experience that may make him long for those days when the Cowboys were champions. He knows he'll always be remembered as a Cowboy.
"Let me ask you a question. When you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger, do you think of him as `The Terminator' or as the governor of California?" Smith said.
At his news conference at Cardinals' headquarters Wednesday, he was conspicuously decked out in a shade of blue that looked awfully close to the color he wore in Dallas for all those years.
"No," he said with a wink. "It's not a coincidence."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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