Is Emmitt Smith Fan Unfriendly?

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Jeff Pearlman thinks so. In a Q&A with the New York Times found here, the author and sports writer touches on former Dallas Cowboys great Emmitt Smith right of the bat. Pearlman has a new book out about the 1990s Cowboys, Boys will be Boys. Apparently, Pearlman tried countless times to get Emmitt Smith to chat about the Cowboys’ history during that decade, but Smith refused. Instead, he demanded a handsome payment if he was going to talk. Kind of arrogant of Smith, if you ask me, but then again, I don’t know Jeff Pearlman.

Anyway, here is what he has to say about Emmitt Smith:

I made several efforts to speak with Emmitt throughout the reporting process, never with any success. At one point I was told he is writing his own book. At another point I was told he’ll only talk if he’s paid handsomely. I tried going through different avenues, but with no luck. So I moved on, because—truth be told—when you write a biography of a sports team, the superstars are often the least important people to speak with. That sounds weird, but it’s true. Over the course of their careers they’re interviewed thousands of times—so not only have their stories been told repeatedly, but they’re tired of talking about the same thing over and over. That’s why, to me, it’s all about the Kenny Gants and Nate Newtons and Kenny Smiths of the world—guys who were there for all, but haven’t been asked about it in a long time.
I have no beef with Emmitt Smith. Awesome player who I enjoyed watching. It’s his right not to talk, and I respect that. However, we were on Outside the Lines together on ESPN recently, and at the end of a lengthy session he cracked, “Go sell some books, Jeff.” The meaning behind the words was clear (”How dare you write a book on my team.”) and it annoyed me, because: A. I gave you 8,000 chances to talk; B. You haven’t even read the book; C. It was a last-second cheap shot; D. I was at Michael Irvin’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony last year, and so many Cowboy players were accessible—except for Smith, who had his own bodyguard ward off fans.

Emmitt Smith had a bodyguard to ward off fans? That’s just not acceptable. This is the Hall of Fame. This is where players meet and greet the fans. I found the comment to be pretty damaging to the reputation of the all-time leading rusher in the NFL. 

I found the tidbit interesting nonetheless, but the entire interview is worth reading. Now Jeff needs to provide me with a free copy to review the book. Come on, Jeff!

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