JACKSONVILLE, FL - FEBRUARY 3: Running back Emmitt Smith reflects on his career during a press conference held to announce his retirement from the NFL after 15 years as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones looks on at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center on February 3, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Prior to the 2009 season, legendary Cowboys' running back Emmitt Smith predicted a playoffs-less, 7-9 season for his former team, a prediction that caused something of a stir around Valley Ranch. He was wrong, of course, as Dallas went 11-5 and won their first playoff game since the 1996 season.
In Smith's mind, they also made some significant strides in their quest to return to legitimate contender status. Smith said as much in a conference call yesterday, adding that this edition of the Cowboys remind him of the perennial contenders for which he played the early 1990s.
"This year, they have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to," Smith said, per the Dallas Morning News. "Hopefully those guys have taken this off-season and said next year should be our time. They made giant strides."
Smith avoided a specific prediction, but said, "I think they have the potential to get there."
Quarterback Tony Romo is a big part of what makes Dallas a viable contender in Smith's estimation, particularly after a 2009 that saw the 29-year-old reduce his turnover totals significantly while maintaining his vaunted ability to make plays.
"He got over the hump," Smith said. "That opens the door for many opportunities. I'm looking for the Cowboys to have a very positive season."