Emmitt Smith has made headlines the last few days because of his opinion on an NFL rule change. The former Dallas Cowboys running back doesn’t like the idea of penalizing a running back for lowering his helmet to initiate contact with defenders.
During a Monday phone interview, Smith explained why he calls the rule ridiculous.
“I think it affects every aspect of our game,” Smith said. “As a running back, you’ve been taught since you were a little kid to get behind your shoulder pads to protect yourself and lower your shoulder. The first thing you do is lower your shoulder but attached to your shoulder is your head. It’s not like you’re trying to go in there and really trying to deliver a blow but your head is part of protecting yourself, and it gets in the way a lot whether or not you’re trying to hit with the crown of your head or you’re trying to brush somebody off with your shoulder.
“Once your head gets in contact with another person’s head it’s just a natural part of the process of getting tackled. I think the rule itself is a little ridiculous. I don’t think the person that’s actually evaluating it appropriately is really thinking about the running back in terms of the other areas that he is going to expose himself to.”
Between rule changes, parity because of the salary cap and more running backs splitting time, Smith should feel pretty good about his rushing record. The closest active running back to Smith’s 18,355 yards is Atlanta’s Steven Jackson at 10,135 yards.
Jackson, who played the previous nine seasons in St. Louis, turns 30 this summer. Plus, he’s joining a much more pass-friendly offense.
But Smith said he isn’t concerned about a runner breaking his record.
“I don’t think I will have a record that will last forever,” Smith said. “I’m a person that likes to think that records are meant to be broken. I think there’s someone out there playing the game today or some kid running around a park throwing a ball up in the air and his mom or dad talked about Emmitt Smith when he was little. He may grow up saying ‘I want to do exactly what he did. I want to break his record.’ That kid is out there some place, somewhere, waiting for his opportunity. Put it this way, I don’t care if it’s broken. I’ve done what I’ve needed to do. I’ve achieved my level of success. The rest is up to someone else to try to do the same thing.”
At 43, one of Smith’s biggest concerns has become winning his battle with gout. The Hall of Fame running back is working to raise awareness about the inflammatory arthritis after suffering a painful flare up in his foot about a year ago. Smith, who is working with Takeda Pharmaceuticals, advises those looking for more information about gout to go to Gout.com.
“I’ve been managing it and so far, so good,” Smith said. “When I learned about it I obviously had to go to the doctor because my flare up had me in such pain that I needed to get some relief. I went to the doctor, got tested, got evaluated, and come to find out my uric acid levels were fairly high. Now, I’m just trying to monitor myself, take the advice from my doctor and train as much as I possibly can.” Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota