Dallas Cowboys Fans Have a Favorite Debate

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The Giants were a hard hitting team. When they realized Emmitt was hurt, they brought the lumber on every Emmitt carry. I still remember the agony on his face as he would pick himself up and go back to the huddle and prepare to do it again. With Emmitt clearly hobbled, the Giants crept back into the game. On the final drive of the game for the Giants Head Coach Dan Reeves ran the ball on 3rd down and the Cowboys stopped them. This forced a Field Goal attempt with 10 seconds to play. It was good and the game was headed to overtime.

It is there that the legend of Emmitt Smith was forever etched into time. The Giants got the ball first in OT, but were forced to punt. Play after agonizing play the Cowboys called Emmitt’s number and he moved the chains. The clock was ticking. His shoulder was aching. The Giants were hitting. Dallas was moving. His right arm was useless yet he used it to stiff arm one of the greatest players to ever play Defense, the great Lawrence Taylor.

Feb. 2, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA: Dallas Cowboys former running back Emmitt Smith (right) with wife Patricia Southall on the red carpet prior to the Super Bowl XLVII NFL Honors award show at Mahalia Jackson Theater. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Finally an Eddie Murray FG ended the agony for Emmitt, and the Cowboys secured home field advantage. That day Pat Summerall and John Madden were calling the game. John Madden did something he had never done before, and would never do again. He went to the Cowboys locker room just to tell Emmitt Smith how incredible his performance was.

How incredible was it? Emmitt Smith carried the ball 32 times for 168 yards, and earned his third straight rushing title, despite missing the first two games of that season in a contract holdout. He also caught the ball, with one arm, another 10 times for an additional 61 yards.

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  • Collin


  • Mike

    So….Barry inherited the run and shoot offense in 1989 after smashing virtually every NCAA single season rushing record the year before…behind a fullback.

    Barry played behind a fullback (Tommy Vardell) for the first time in his NFL career in 1997…and rushed for 2,053 yards. The next year (his last) he played in a 2 back set and “dropped off dramatically”…rushing for a “mere”1,491 yards. That’s “pretty good”.

    Keep it up, though. Keep perpetuating that myth that Barry was ALWAYS looking for the big play and would routinely give up 3 yarders for the chance to break one for 60. The truth is, Barry picked up a lot of 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 yard gains….when he SHOULD HAVE lost 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 yards. You see the 60 and 70 yarders on YouTube…unless you have the tapes or watched Sanders during his career, you may not remember him breaking 3 tackles on a busted play to turn minus 3 into minus 1.

    Saying you’d take twenty backs over Barry Sanders shows just how objective you are.

    • Rowdy Yates

      Thank you! Barry wasn’t necessarily always looking for the big play, he was looking to move the ball forward. When he moved the ball forward, often he was able to make the big play happen. Because he COULD make everyone miss, that’s what he did. No running back before or after had the gift that Barry had. The NFL has seen a lot of great running backs, and you could replace Emmitt Smith with just about any of them and they would produce the same results on the field. That’s not taking anything from Emmitt, because he is one of the greats, but Barry was a truly a one-of-a-kind talent.

  • Rowdy Yates

    Wrong! I gave the author the benefit of the doubt until he questioned Barry’s ‘heart’. Emmitt was glad Barry retired, because if he hadn’t Barry would have the records, and this debate wouldn’t exist. For the record though, I think this debate is pretty stupid. Even though they were both RB’s, this is an apples and oranges comparison. They were very different players, as the author notes, but the difference wasn’t in the players’ hearts. Emmitt couldn’t do the things Barry did, and Barry couldn’t do the things Emmitt did. Barry is a small guy, Emmit, while not a huge guy, was bigger and had more power. And the Lions’ coaches didn’t let Barry do some of the great things he was capable of, like leaping over a pile in a goal-line or short yardage situation. The Lions offense was designed to keep Barry from getting hit – to play to his strengths. It didn’t always work, but Barry didn’t really get hurt, which is why he was able to make the most out of his 10 years in the NFL, especially when you consider that he played for the Lions. Unfortunately the Barry years are only thing a Lions fan has in recent history to remember fondly. Dallas fans will never understand. I can watch Barry Sanders’ highlights all day and never get bored. I can watch Barry Sanders lose yards all day never get bored. Emmitt Smith wasn’t so exciting, as the author fairly notes. I’d take Barry over Emmitt in a minute, but that doesn’t change the fact they were both great players and class-act guys.