John Madden
John Madden
A star in my eyes
By John Madden

Emmitt Smith has always been one of my favorite players for a number of reasons. I like guys who play well, play hard, play with a lot of passion and intensity, play tough and then, play for a long time. That's Emmitt Smith right there.

Emmitt Smith
Emmitt Smith has helped the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles.
That's also why Walter Payton was always one of my all-time favorites, because that's how he played the game. If you needed a block, he was the best blocker, and if you needed a pass receiver, he was the best pass receiver, and if you needed a runner, he was the best runner. Well, that's what Emmitt Smith is; he's the same type of player.

Smith has endured, and he's played on good teams and average teams and bad teams in Dallas. He has a standard for himself and the bar is very high. He hasn't done it the easy way, either. If you look at all of the yards he's gained in his career, I'll bet you that over 80 percent of them would be from running inside -- between the tackles. And what's in there between those tackles, are a bunch of big, ol' defensive linemen and hard hittin' linebackers. Heck, you're running right into the teeth of the defense when you run in there. He's done just that and he's done it well.

He's had good offensive linemen and they've helped him a lot, but he's helped them, too. For years, he had a great lead blocker in Daryl "Moose" Johnston, and those two worked well together.

There's only one time as an announcer that I ever went into a locker room after a game to congratulate a player. I just feel that there's no place in a locker room for an announcer, so I don't make a habit of it.

But I did do it after Smith played with a bad shoulder in that great game against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands in January of 1994. When the Cowboys needed a first down or something, he ran the ball and got it for them. He had a team-record 42 rushing-receiving attempts [32 rushes and 10 receptions] in that overtime win, and that game was one of the toughest efforts I've ever seen by any football player in any game. I just felt afterward like I wanted to go in there and shake his hand after the game. It was the only time I've ever done something like that.
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