Emmitt Smith is only 95 yards away from breaking Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett's career rushing record for the Dallas Cowboys, an accomplishment he never thought he would achieve.
"I remember when I first walked into Texas Stadium nine years ago and saw the Ring of Honor," Smith said on Wednesday. "I thought how someday I wanted my name up there. I was in awe. I didn't know if I would ever make it."
"Now, just nine years later, I have a chance to break the record of someone I admired when I was growing up."
Dorsett played 11 years for the Cowboys after being drafted out of Pitt. Coincidentally, University of Texas running back Ricky Williams needs only 295 yards to surpass Dorsett's All-Time collegiate rushing mark.
Smith, a former first-round pick out of Florida, has battled injuries and a heavy workload to rush for 11,942 career yards, eighth on the NFL's alltime career rushing list.
"Emmitt has played at a high level a long time," quarterback Troy Aikman said. "That's what defines greatness. It speaks volumes for the kind of career he has had."
This year, Smith is averaging 88 ½ yards per game and is on a pace to rush for 1,416 yards. He ran for 101 yards against Philadelphia Monday night, his 59th career 100-yard rushing game.
"I've been blessed, no doubt about it," Smith said. "I'm in my ninth year and the average for an NFL running back is four. I'm on borrowed time and it's pretty unbelievable some of the things I've been able to achieve."
Standing between Smith and the record are the New York Giants, Cowboys' opponents Sunday. The Giants, who are normally tough against the run, have dropped off to 19th in the NFL this year.
| Emmitt Smith is less than 100 yards away from becoming Dallas' all-time leading rusher. (AP) |
On the other hand, the Dallas offensive line is banged up. Right tackle Erik Williams is doubtful and center Clay Shiver questionable with injuries.
"I just hope those guys get well because they've been a big part of my success," Smith said. "Even though breaking the record would be an honor, I have my job to do. I can't be worried about it."
The last time the teams met, in the second game of the season, Dallas won 31-7 but Smith got only 21 yards on seven carries because of a pulled groin muscle.
"We expect the Giants to be hyped up," Smith said. "We embarrassed them the last time and they didn't like that."
Aikman said it will be hard for Smith to break the record against the Giants.
"We expect them to jump up there in an eight-man front and try to stop the run," Aikman said.
But Smith is hopeful. "If we could beat the Giants on Sunday and I get the record, it would make it real sweet," he said.
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