Emmitt Smith never paid much heed to critics who said he was too small and too slow to be effective in the NFL. If he had, he may not have been so audacious when setting goals in his rookie season--like, for example, becoming the all-time leading rusher, a goal he told Michael Irvin of when he came into the league in 1990.
Twelve years of steady, odds-defying performances later, he met that goal with a short run against the Seattle Seahawks at Texas Stadium. On Saturday, another of his lofty goals will be achieved when he is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
"I was always taught to try not to focus on what people are saying about you," Smith said. "Obviously you hear it, and you can't help but think about it to some degree. But it won't affect how you approach the game. You will continue to work hard, study hard and
approach the game from a professional standpoint that will afford you the opportunity to go on the football field and do the best you can. That is all I ever asked of myself, and by the end of the day, wherever the chips fell is where they fell."
A consummate professional, Smith approached the game like a business, with clear goals and defined means to accomplish them. By winning Super Bowls and shattering records, Smith figured, one gains enshrinement in Canton. Obviously, he figured right.
"I knew if I could become the all-time leading rusher, that would position me to become a Hall of Famer," Smith said. "I think when you rush for 1,000 yards 11 consecutive years and lead the league in rushing four years, and win not only one or two but three Super Bowls --I think the Super Bowls help solidify a person's chance to become a Hall of Famer.
“I was motivated by one thing and one thing only: winning games," Smith added. "I wanted to win. And I wanted to win very bad.”
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