Emmitt Smith: NFL career has caused ‘normal’ wear and tear

Fortunately for Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, he says the aches and pains he experiences from his 15 seasons in the NFL are limited and the most severe are from occasional gout flare ups.

In a time when thousands of former players are suing the NFL over brain injuries believed to be suffered from the punishment they took on the field, Smith says he hasn’t faced anything out of the ordinary.

"Physically, I feel extremely fortunate and blessed," Smith said Thursday. "Do I get stiff in certain areas? Yes, I do. But everything I have right now feels normal to me, feels manageable to me. The only thing that has really plagued me since retirement is my gout flare ups. That is the one thing that has jumped out at me like a sore thumb. That experience in itself was eye opening. I’ve not had pain like that since I retired."

Smith is working with Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. to raise awareness about gout management and treatment. Smith says his preventative measures include regular doctor visits and monitoring of his uric acid levels.

The after effects of the pounding players are taking on Sundays has led to many, including Smith’s former teammate Troy Aikman, saying they wouldn’t encourage their sons to play football. The NFL’s all-time leading rusher suffered more than his share of punishment, carrying the ball nearly 5,000 times in his career. But that hasn’t caused him to keep his son away from the game.

"Me personally, I would rather he do what he wants to do," Smith said. "Football is a game that’s going to wean it out. It’s going to make it very clear to him that either he loves it or he don’t, because when you have to get up and go out there in August and practice twice a day in the heat and then endure an entire season and get sore and hurt and physically fatigued. Football isn’t a game that you absolutely like, it’s a game that you absolutely have to love.

"For him, to be committed to play the game tells me he loves it. I’m looking forward to see how he continues to grow within the game itself and whether or not he continues to have that love and passion for it."