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NFL great Emmitt Smith scores touchdown with truckload carriers

Emmitt Smith credits his father with providing some sage advice at an early age. “Life is gonna deal you some things that you’ll have to overcome,” he told his son, a future member of the NLF Hall of Fame. (The Trucker: LYNDON FINNEY)

By CLIFF ABBOTT
The Trucker Staff

3/24/2014

GRAPEVINE, Texas — From 1990 to 2002, the Cowboys were a better team with Emmitt Smith in the lineup.

Adding the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee to the lineup at the Truckload Carriers Association convention at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, wasn’t a bad idea either.

After an introduction by Pilot Flying J Executive Vice President Mark Hazelwood, the NFL’s rushing record holder (18,355 yards) took the stage to an enthusiastic reception to talk about “A Championship Vision: Winning, Discipline, Leadership.”

Smith quickly admitted that he has no experience with trucking, but pointed out that the traits that made him a successful football player were applicable to far more than sports. He credited his father with providing some sage advice at an early age. “Life is gonna deal you some things that you’ll have to overcome,” the senior Smith counseled. Those words came just after a 7-year old Emmitt announced he would play for the Cowboys one day.

Smith credits his high school coach, Dwight Thomas, with more advice, including the time-worn, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” Thomas told the young running back that the day would come, sooner or later, when football wouldn’t be there, and that he must have a vision for the next phase of his life.

And so, the lessons he learned in the football world, such as “strive to be the best you can be” and “personal sacrifices are sometimes necessary to achieve goals,” have proven true in other areas as Smith began his life after football.

After hanging up his spikes in 2004, Smith teamed with retired Cowboy Quarterback Roger Staubach to form a real estate and development company. He also founded ESmith Legacy, a commercial development and investment management firm based in Baltimore. He and wife Pat teamed up to form Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities to provide assistance to underserved children.

If these successful ventures weren’t enough, there’s Smith’s short career as an analyst for ESPN. Then, there’s the dancing. After turning down invitations to appear on the show for two years, Smith finally agreed to appear on “Dancing with the Stars” in the show’s third season. He spoke of his decision to join the show and his pre-agreement discussion with his wife, who was somewhat skeptical.

“Some of my best coaches have also been my toughest coaches,” he said, including coach and dance partner Cheryl Burke. He described practice as “grueling,” but also explained how he and Cheryl won the 2006 championship.

As his motivational comments came to a close, Smith attributed a quote to famous Alabama football coach Bear Bryant, saying, “the price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.” Whether he’s talking football, charity work, real estate or dancing, the vision never changes. “Be the best you can be,” he repeated.

During the question and answer period which followed, several in the crowd asked about his toughest game, what it was like playing in the Super Bowl and other football related questions. One question, however, brought the audience to silence. “What advice do I give my son?” a father asked, describing how a football injury had ended any chance at a sports career.

“Eliminate the word ‘fear’ from your vocabulary, Smith told him. “Replace it with the word ‘challenge. When you do that,” he continued, “then you can think in terms of overcoming the challenge rather than being afraid,” said the man who is still overcoming challenges. 

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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JB Hunt