What Records Does Emmitt Smith Hold?

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Emmitt Smith, #22, running back for the Dallas Cowboys, runs the ball through the Giants defence during the NFC East game against the New York Giants on October 5, 1997, at the Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

There was never a doubt the Dallas Cowboys had made the best signing of the season by selecting Emmitt Smith in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft. Smith wasted no time proving he would play a major role in the Cowboys’ future as one of the greatest running backs in football history. In his first season, he rushed for 937 yards and made 11 touchdowns to clinch the Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. So, what records does Emmitt Smith hold?

Emmitt Smith enjoyed a high-octane football career

Emmitt Smith, #22, running back for the Dallas Cowboys, runs the ball through the Giants defence during the NFC East game against the New York Giants on October 5, 1997, at the Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Emmitt Smith, #22 of the Dallas Cowboys, in 1997 | Al Bello/Allsport/Getty Images

It wasn’t a surprise when Emmitt Smith embarked on a mission to nurture the Dallas Cowboys back to the top of the NFL after the team’s rebuilding period. The running back earned four rushing crowns in a five-season span — winning titles in 1992, 1993, and 1995 — and put the Cowboys firmly at the top of the NFL, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Smith wasn’t done yet. He led the NFL in rushing touchdowns three times and contributed 277 pass receptions during the same period. He was undeniably the most prominent factor in the Cowboys’ Super Bowl XXVII, XXVIII, and XXX victories. Smith was on an upward trend, being named the NFL’s MVP and Super Bowl XXVIII MVP following the Cowboys’ victory over the Buffalo Bills.

The running back narrowly missed the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie, but what followed next was incredible. Smith went on to achieve 1,000 yards rushing for 11 straight seasons. The streak came to a shocking end in 2002 when he missed the mark by a mere 25 yards. However, he supplanted Walter Payton as the all-time rushing leader in a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in the same year.

What records does Emmitt Smith still hold? 

Smith broke the previous record held by Payton on October 27, 2002, after hitting a career rushing record of 18,355 yards. He also leads all NFL running backs with 164 rushing touchdowns and comes second to Jerry Rice with 175 total touchdowns. Smith also made it into the top four NFL players to surpass the 21,000 combined-yards mark from the line of scrimmage. The other three are Payton, Rice, and Brian Mitchell.

No NFL player has yet to break the record Smith set in rushing attempts of 4,409 and three consecutive seasons with 19 or more touchdowns. He’s also the record-holder for the most games in a season, with 15 rushing touchdowns, which he set in 1995. The Pro Football Hall of Famer also boasts the most rushing yards (1,586) on the NFL post-season chart.

Smith isn’t new to breaking and setting records. He did so even outside the NFL. During his college football days with the Gators, he promptly crushed Florida’s 57-year-old all-time single-game rushing record previously held by Red Bethea. Smith carried 39 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns as the Gators walloped the Alabama Crimson Tide.

By the conclusion of his college football career, Emmitt Smith had set a whopping 58 school records, putting him in many opponents’ crosshairs. He was also a first-team SEC selection and SEC Player of the Year. In addition, he clinched a unanimous first-team All-American and finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

The retired running back’s new NASCAR endeavor

In his post-NFL days, Smith strove for success beyond football after a failed attempt at broadcasting. He found it in a lucrative real estate career. And now, he also co-owns a NASCAR Xfinity Series team with Jesse Iwuji, a former Navy football player and military officer.

Though it might seem Smith was following in the footsteps of former NBA great Michael Jordan, the eight-time Pro Bowler said Iwuji inspired him to enter NASCAR. The new team will begin racing in the 2022 season.

Smith is looking toward extending his winning ways to NASCAR, but he’s quick to add that he and Iwuji hope to create opportunities for others to become successful.

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