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What they're saying

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Quotes from and about Emmitt Smith,
who announced Thursday he is retiring after 15 years in the NFL:

"It's been a tremendous ride. It's one I've been very proud of
and one that I'm happy with. I've given everything I can possible
to the game, on and off the field." -- Emmitt Smith.

"The memories that I have, the relationships that I'm taking
away from the game, are something dear and something I will take
with me for the rest of my life. I'm moving on to another chapter
in my life and that's a chapter I'm looking forward to." -- Smith.

"Emmitt has never forgot he was part of a team and what the
team meant. Your place in our franchise has always been secure." --
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

"He may go down as the best of all time. There are a lot of
backs that have come through this league, but for a guy like that
to accomplish what he has, it's unheard of. I have a lot of respect
for him. In high school and through my junior college years, I used
to watch him. I've always admired him. He's one of the best." --
New England running back Corey Dillon.

"Having a young man like him that never said one swear word,
was never tardy for one class, never one time did I get a referral
on him, sat on the front row and said 'yes sir, no sir,' I'm
thinking to myself we have something special here." -- former
Pensacola Escambia High School coach Dwight Thomas, who coached
Smith for four years at the Florida school.

"He never backed down. I remember the one season where he had a
bad shoulder against the Giants. You could see him fighting and
gritting his teeth and grimacing on the sideline. But every time he
lined up behind Troy Aikman, you never knew his shoulder was hurt.
Those guys playing against him didn't know he was in so much pain
because he didn't show it. He never let them know. That's the type
of guy he is." -- Pepper Johnson, former linebacker and New England
defensive line coach.

"He's done everything possible that a running back could do.
He's broken every record, he was a leader on and off the field, and
the city of Dallas recognizes how special he was. Not only that,
but the people of Phoenix started realizing how important he was to
that team. He's always been a strong personality on and off the
field." -- former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson.

"I remember we played against him on a Monday night game the
first year I played in Philadelphia. I think it was a lead option.
I tried to tackle him with one arm. He almost tore my arm off. I
grabbed him. He kept running and almost tore my arm out of the
socket. That was when everybody was saying that he was slowing
down." -- Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Hugh Douglas.

"He's such a low-key, classy individual. And what he's been
able to achieve hasn't been given just due. He's such an ambassador
of the game. Football's been good to him, and I hope he
reciprocates it by staying close to the game. I hope he doesn't
completely walk away." -- New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson.

"Each time I look at Emmitt Smith, I think he exemplifies the
things a professional athlete should be on and off the field. When
we played the Arizona Cardinals this year, I told him what an
inspiration he's been on my life, mentally and spiritually. All of
the things that he stands for, I really believe in. I really can't
put into words what he means to the National Football League. As
good as a player as he was, I think he was an even better person. I
really felt that everything he did was genuine." -- New England
Patriots defensive tackle Richard Seymour.