JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–When the NFL’s all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith announced his retirement during Super Bowl week before a packed crowd of journalists, the former Dallas Cowboy great had three full sheets of people to thank for helping in his Hall of Fame-bound career.
But Smith started the Feb. 3 news conference by stating what was most important to him as a player and now a professional football retiree.
“First of all, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Smith said boldly as dozens of camera flashes went off in the media crowd.
“I owe Him everything I have and everything I am and every fiber of my being belongs to Him,” Smith said.
While the news media from around the world were quick to praise Smith for his spectacular deeds on the football field, even giving him a standing ovation when he finished, Emmitt said the love of his wife, Pat, and his three kids, Rheagen, Jasmin and E.J., were more important than continuing his football career in another town.
“I had offers from other teams, but I didn’t want to keep moving my family all around the country. I wanted to come home, get them with their friends and get back in our church.”
Smith has formed an accountability group with former Cowboys and fellow Potter’s House church members Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders in Dallas.
He mentioned dozens of former teammates in his retirement but said his relationship with the Lord has carried him through many professional ups and downs.
“He has been my rock and savior and what I counted on to get me here.”
Smith said he has a variety of post-football options, including possible ownership in a professional football team, coaching or perhaps TV work.
Whatever he does after football, Smith said he plans to continue his witness to the power of God in enabling him to become one of football’s best-ever running backs.
“Without Christ in my life, I wouldn’t be sharing what I’m standing for today,” Smith said.
HALFTIME AIMS FOR HIGHER STANDARD
Don Mischer was sitting on his couch in Southern California with his 9-year-old daughter last year when Janet Jackson launched her now-infamous halftime act last year in Houston. The daughter seemed oblivious, “but that [Jackson’s show] was still totally inappropriate for the Super Bowl.”
The Hollywood producer is in charge of this year’s halftime event featuring Paul McCartney and promised a higher moral standard.
“If what happened last year had been on cable or MTV, there wouldn’t have been as big of an outcry, but there was nobody in authority to tell them that was not the right place to do what they did.
“With an audience that big, you have to remember that 40 percent of your viewers can be kids under 13. It was bad taste and something we are going to correct this year,” Mischer said.
As part of the Super Bowl halftime show, dozens of Southern Baptist youths are taking part as background helpers for McCartney or assembling and taking down the stage.
“There was a huge backlash last year, we all saw that and it needs to be corrected. That’s my goal and something I think we will do,” said the veteran producer who has worked on previous shows at the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the 2004 Democratic Convention.