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Porcher says Smith should have retired

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit defensive end Robert Porcher thinks Emmitt Smith made a mistake by not retiring after last season.

"I think he's overstayed his welcome," Porcher said. "It
doesn't make me feel sad. That's the problem most players have.
Most players, especially great players, have a hard time saying
'Goodbye.' Most of us have been doing this since we were little
kids."

Smith, the NFL career rushing leader, said earlier Thursday he
would be out four to five weeks after breaking his left
shoulder blade in a loss at Dallas last week. Smith lost 1 yard on
six carries in his first game against the team he for which he starred during his first 13 seasons.

He has just 192 yards and one touchdown in five games with the
Cardinals. Smith broke Walter Payton's career rushing record last
season, and has 17,354 yards rushing in his career.

After the Cardinals practiced Thursday, team spokesman Paul
Jensen said Smith was not available to respond to Porcher's
comments.

Smith made his debut with the Cardinals in a 42-24 loss in Week
1 at Detroit. Smith gained just 4 yards on his first five runs and
finished with 64 yards on 13 carries.

Porcher played with Barry Sanders for seven seasons before the
Lions' star running back suddenly retired just before the 1999
season. Sanders ran for 15,269 yards over 10 seasons, then retired
with Payton's rushing record only one of his average seasons away.

Sanders, who always said he wasn't motivated to break records,
said in a written statement that his desire to retire was stronger
than his desire to play, and he hasn't said much since. He was
nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday and is
expected to be inducted next summer with John Elway.

"What Barry did just speaks volumes about his character as a
man," Porcher said. "To walk away when he was that close to the
record and still at the prime of his career, says a lot about him.
There have not been many players that have done what he did."

After criticizing Smith's decision to keep playing, Porcher said
he would be fooling himself if he didn't think about the end of his
career approaching. The 12-year veteran, who has 91.5 career sacks,
has assisted on only one sack through five games this season, after
making just 5.5 in 15 games last season.

Porcher said some of the moves he was able to make two years ago
in a game against San Francisco, he was not able to repeat Sunday
in a loss against the 49ers.

"That's just a part of what we do. You get old," Porcher, 34,
said.

Porcher said he takes it "year by year" when deciding whether
to play the following year.

"I'm not going to play just to play," he said. "I'm never
going to do that."