As we head into week 3 of the NFL season the Dallas Cowboys face the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane on how Emmitt Smith left the Cowboys for the Cardinals in his own words.
On what his first day as a Cowboy was like:
“Well, game day, we played against the San Diego Chargers. I didn’t play a whole lot. I got two carries for only two yards. It wasn’t a productive day for me. It was somewhat of a disappointment. But I think we won the game, which was great.”
On what his first day as a Cardinal was like:
“Well, I didn’t look at the uniform. You probably did. The most painful moment was probably coming back here to Texas Stadium to play against the Dallas Cowboys and getting dressed in the visitors locker room. That broke my heart because that’s when I realized how much I loved the Dallas Cowboys and how much that love for that organization meant to me as a football player and made me do the things on the football field that I wanted to do. I think that day was the day that my soul for the game left.”
On if he regretted leaving Dallas at that moment:
“No, I didn’t because it cleared it up for me that it was time for me to move on and that my time had come and gone. The only thing left for me to do was to honor my contract with the Arizona Cardinals and give them the best that I could for the remaining time I had for my contract. But sitting in that locker room, getting dressed in the visitors locker room knowing I was supposed to be on the other side, it brought tears to my eyes before the game. I was crying and sobbing like a baby. This is not my locker room. I am not supposed to be in here. I’m looking at Damien Anderson, Marcel Shipp, Josh Scobey and James Hodgins, my running back group, and they’re looking at me on the bench crying like a baby, I mean sobbing. I couldn’t stop sobbing. I’m saying this out loud. I’m not supposed to be here. This is not my locker room. It hit me so hard, and I had to go out and play. Unfortunately for me, I got hurt. But I knew right then coming back home, man, this is not right.”
Was Emmitt Smith signing with the Cardinals simply about ticket sales?
The Arizona Cardinals couldn’t help themselves. The temptation to bring to the desert one the most talented, classy individuals to ever play in the NFL was too great. No matter how “over the hill” he was as a player.
So, in March of 2003, the Cardinals signed Emmitt Smith. They had to have known they wouldn’t be acquiring the Dallas Cowboys’ legend who had made so many Sundays miserable for Cards’ fans. But maybe they had an ulterior motive .
The three-time Super Bowl champ and four-time rushing champ signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Cardinals in 2003 and was a shadow of the back he once was. In two seasons he ran for 1,193 yards — fewer rushing yards than he had in a single season nine times. He averaged just 3.3 yards per carry with the Cardinals, and the team went 10-22.
If you recall this move, it was clearly to get more fans in the seats. There were so many Cowboys fans there at the time, so trying to cash in on that made sense for a such a terrible team.
Here is an interview on how Emmitt Smith felt about both teams when reflecting back upon that period in his life.
Subscribe to our blog today for more great Cowboys stories like this