Smith finds twice is nice, but more has a better ring

February 01, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

ATLANTA -- Don't tell Emmitt Smith that he's done everything there is to do on a football field.

He's won a pair of Super Bowl rings and a Super Bowl MVP trophy, but he still says he has a lot of mountains to climb.

Less than a dozen hours after leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 30-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII Sunday night, Smith talked about those goals after he was presented with the Super Bowl MVP trophy yesterday.

"I think winning two Super Bowls was fine. Being MVP is great. But there's so much more I feel can be accomplished. I'm not satisfied with where I'm at right now. I have a lot of room to grow as a football player as well as a person. I'm kind of looking forward to what the future has in store for me," he said.

"Definitely, I have a goal of reaching 2,000 yards."

He'd like to keep winning those diamond-studded rings, too.

"Every year, there's a different challenge, and you want to win as many games as possible. I have two Super Bowl rings now, and I'd definitely like three, four, five, perhaps even six more if I could.

"Charles Haley is walking around with six now [actually, he has two each from the 49ers and Cowboys]. How come the rest of us can't? I think every year is a different challenge for us. I'm going to continue to challenge myself and try to better what I've done this far," Smith said.

Smith credits a former high school coach named Dwight Thomas for getting him to set high goals.

"A man told me if you're satisfied, there's no room for you to grow," Smith said. "If you're not satisfied, there's many more opportunities for you, and I'm not satisfied with what I've done."

Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said he isn't surprised Smith isn't satisfied.

"The guy is a performer. I really believe he has as much pride as any individual I've ever been around. That's what gives him the commitment to really be the best at what he does," Johnson said.

Smith does it all even though he lacks blazing speed.

"I try to analyze why he's such a great player, and you can look at the physical things," Johnson said. "He's got great leg strength. He's the best north-south runner I've ever seen. There are a lot of backs that do a lot of dipping and dodging, but you truly have to study Emmitt in slow motion to see the tackles that he breaks. He makes a subtle move, and he's still heading toward the goal line.

"He either makes the guy miss or he runs through an arm tackle. He really doesn't have any wasted motion going east and west.

"He has as much impact on the game in all phases as any one player. He allows us to control the clock, he allows us to pick up first downs. I would have never gone for it on fourth down at the goal line last night had we not had Emmitt Smith. I would have kicked the field goal. He allows us to do so many more things that we wouldn't do if we didn't have Emmitt."

After Smith rests his injured shoulder for four to six weeks -- he'll skip the Pro Bowl -- doctors will decide if he needs shoulder surgery.

Smith also gave his teammates credit for his success and said defensive back James Washington, who caused a fumble, returned another one for a touchdown and intercepted a pass, could have been "co-MVP."

"You're talking about a player who had the best game of his life," Smith said.

Smith said a key for the Cowboys in the off-season will be if owner Jerry Jones can keep the team together. Three of the five offensive line starters, Kevin Gogan, Nate Newton and Mark Stepnoski, are free agents.

Smith went through a bitter holdout this season, and the Cowboys lost their first two games without him. Even Johnson said he lost his focus without Smith.

"We were working, but we weren't really focusing in on what we had to accomplish," Johnson said. "I was paying more attention to Emmitt not being there and being frustrated because we were trying to deal with it and knowing we weren't going to be as good a football team without him that I lost my focus, and I'm sure that carried over to the players."

After the holdout, Smith said his low point came when he injured a quadriceps muscle in Atlanta against the Falcons and he left here on crutches. Five days later, they lost on Thanksgiving Day to the Miami Dolphins in a snowstorm on a gaffe by Leon Lett.

It turned out that was their last loss, and Smith left Atlanta this time as a Super Bowl winner.

"It's as difficult a year in a good year as I've ever gone through," Johnson said. "We had injuries to our premier players. We had the resolve and the character to hang in there and overcome some adversity."

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