If PFT Live had a guest Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith (an annual Super Bowl-week guest) would have earned a spot with Friday’s visit alone.
The full video is attached. Emmitt was as funny and engaging as ever. He also has very pointed in his criticisms of the current Cowboys.
It started with a simple question: Were you surprised owner Jerry Jones didn’t fire head coach Mike McCarthy after a 48-32 home playoff loss to the Packers?
“I was completely surprised,” Emmitt said. “I know how disappointed I was as a player to see that product put on the football field. It is not becoming of the Dallas Cowboys’ mystique, respect, the brand. It is not the appropriate representation of the brand itself. Now, Jerry understand these kind of words. The brand, right? The star. Everything has to be pristine, but this was not that. That right there was so disappointing not only to me, but to many of our fans and including people that was like, ‘What is that?’ It wasn’t a good look.”
I asked Emmitt about my own theory that Jerry’s quest for another Super Bowl win is all talk, that he claims to want to win one more to keep the fans engaged but that his actions don’t back up his world.
“You lose credibility,” Emmitt said of Jones. “And if you’re losing credibility, you’re losing respect. You lose respect, you have no honor. At the end of the day, I agree to some level. Things have to change. I thought the reason why I was so convinced that [McCarthy] was going to get fired because last year there was a whole lot of talk about ‘OK, this might be it. If he doesn’t perform this year, OK.’ You’re gonna accept twelve wins and the playoff berth, but you’re gonna accept the way we got kicked out of the playoffs? I mean, dominated. I mean, it’s like we went out and played with our hands tied behind our backs or we left our minds up in [the team facility in] Frisco and didn’t even take it over to AT&T [Stadium] in Arlington. It was such a disappointing thing. It was just bad. It’s bad all the way around. I even hate talking about it because I feel responsible. I feel like I could have helped, and I don’t know how. But, yeah, it was bad.”
We asked Emmitt what happened next as coach, if McCarthy doesn’t make it beyond 2024. Emmitt said he initially thought Jones would hire Sean Payton. Emmitt also suggested “stealing Dan Campbell from the Detroit Lions . . . because I think his message [of grit and effort and determination] is the right message that a lot of people are missing, and a lot of kids are missing.”
“Nobody wants to fight no more,” Emmitt said. “No one wants to fight hard anymore. They wanna [say], ‘Oh, we are the Cowboys. Tell me how good I am. Check out my Instagram posts. See me on my podcast? I’m doing all this stuff. I’m everything.’ Without doing anything.
“And everybody’s patting them on the back without doing anything. People wanna give them so much without doing nothing. And what they’re living off of is what happened in the past, not what’s going down right now. They’re not establishing their own legacy, let alone building off of the legacy that was established.
“When I got to the Cowboys, I knew one thing. I knew I could not disappoint Tony Dorsett as a running back. And I knew I could not disappoint Robert Newhouse as a running back. Or Calvin Hill. Or let alone ‘Bullet’ Bob Hayes. Then, I knew I could not disappoint Captain Comeback, Roger Staubach. Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones. I embraced the history of who we were because I loved them as a Cowboy when I was a kid myself.
“So when I got there, it’s like, ‘Shoot, we ain’t gonna be 1-15.’ My mind was already on that, and I knew Michael [Irvin’s] mind was on it. Jimmy [Johnson’s] mind had to be on it. Amen. Don’t put up with no B.S. At the end of the day, when you see a legendary defensive end like Charles Haley who’s a Hall of Famer working with Leon Lett, Tony Tolbert, Tony Casillas, and Chad Hennings, Jimmy Jones and other players. Working with them, teaching them [the] swim [technique]. He’s working with them to make them better, so he becomes better. He’s not worrying about competing against them. But when you see that, you see greatness and that’s why that team was so good defensively. Then we see Deion [Sanders] come in. He could have came in as ‘Neon Deion,’ but he didn’t. He came in playing ping pong with everybody. Whoever wanted to play ping pong, he played. Bring it on. It was competition. Dominos was being played between James Washington and myself. Defensive players, offensive players and they’re getting to know each other. Things that brought us together are things that I think is missing within the locker room.”
The bottom line for Emmitt is that he’s had enough of the hype.
“I’m tired of being sold on what the Cowboys could be,” he said. “I’m tired. I’ve had enough of it because I’m more about what the Cowboys really are. And who we really are and who we were. That’s where I’m at. That’s where everyone else is at. How do you allow this to happen? Yeah. And so, for me it’s like, ‘Hey, I know the prism which I look at the team through and eyes. I go all the way back to Staubach. I go all the way back to those days with Lee Roy Jordan. I go all the way back to those days and then I come up to where we were at and I’m like, ‘OK. We honored them. We respected them. We respected the history of the game. We love the game.’ I respect the history of the game like no other. Whether it’s Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Dorsett, Gale Sayers, you name them. All the way up to where Barry Sanders and I sitting side to side. Thurman Thomas is in the mix, right? I respect my players. I respect their play and I honor who they are because I’m honoring this position and I’m honoring the game. These motherbrothers. . . .”
He almost didn’t say, “Motherbrothers.” Regardless, everyone’s mother and brother is now aware that Emmitt Smith is mad about where the Cowboys are, about what they’ve become, about what they’re not doing, and about the absence of any apparently overwhelming desire to get there.
There’s a strong message in Emmitt’s words for the players. If Jones truly wants to win, he’d try to find a way to embrace it and to use it and to help the current players adopt the same mindset that fueled the Dallas team that won three Super Bowls in four years.