FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 06: Emmitt Smith smiles as he walks on the stage after being announced as one of the newest enhrinees into the Hall of Fame during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 Press Conference held at the Greater Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 6, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Emmitt Smith
Emmitt Smith committed his entire Hall of Fame speech to memory and worked for months with a speech coach to ensure his moment in Canton was free of his usual goofy malapropisms. And the Cowboys legend succeeded on virtually all counts. He gave a speech that was sincere, heartfelt, and downright touching. But that wasn’t enough for some fans of U-Florida, who were testy that Smith failed to thank the Gator faithful. Ethan Skolnick at the Sun Sentinel reports:
Smith, after all, is in the Gators’ Ring of Honor, though he didn’t show up for that ceremony because of rehearsals for Dancing With The Stars. And current Gators coach Urban Meyer was in attendance Saturday night.
I don’t have many inside connections at Florida, but a few media friends of mine do. And their strong suspicion, based on some recent circumstances, is that the snub was due to Smith’s strained relationship with Florida AD Jeremy Foley.
Gainsville newspaper reporter Pat Dooley, who covered Smith at Florida, wrote: "Apparently Emmitt went from Escambia directly to the Cowboys. Wow, I wasted my time covering some other guy wearing 22 from 87-89."
Oh, wah wahhhhh. Did you want a personal thank you, Pat? Is that why you covered Emmitt Smith, so that he’d toss your name into a speech two decades down the line? All this pointless fury forced Smith to apologize via his Twitter feed. But I don’t think Emmitt needs to apologize for anything. It’s the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The point is to honor Smith’s professional career. I don’t recall Pat Dooley blocking for Smith during any of the Super Bowl years. There’s a College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend that Smith belongs to. Want him to get all warm and fuzzy about the Gators? Go see him there. This is the NFL. No one cares about you and your tacky provincialism, U-Florida.
In the course of any thank-you speech, someone is always going to get left out. You meet too many people along the way to fit them all into one speech, even one as long as Emmitt gave. Names will be omitted. Even names as glorious and triumphant as the University of Florida. Suck it up, UF. You will live. Or you can keep complaining and end up as hated as Notre Dame. I’m sure plenty of football fans will be happy to oblige you on that. In fact, I’m GLAD he didn’t thank you. I hope next time he gives a speech like this, he thanks Bobby Bowden and Nick Saban.