DALLAS, Texas Retired Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith is usually OK with being critical of his former team, but at least when it comes to the team’s recent run in the NFL Draft he gave them a good grade. That includes the decision not to address his old position, where the team surprisingly did not select a running back.
Appearing on Tuesday morning on The Shan and RJ Show on 105.3 The Fan, I asked Smith if he is good with the team’s decision to go with free agent addition Darren McFadden as the starting running back.
“You know what? I am OK,” he said. “Darren McFadden, that is a running back you have to respect. You have to remember he played out in Oakland. Oakland doesn’t have what the Cowboys have. And so having an offensive line, and a quarterback like Tony Romo, and some receivers, and a system that makes some daggone sense, he can become a better running back in this system.
“And (with backup running back Joseph) Randle, you can have a nice one-two punch. The one thing with McFadden, if he gets some of those running lanes that I saw DeMarco have last year, and it’s on - he can take it to the house.”
McFadden, 27, spent the first seven years of his career with the Oakland Raiders. He has rushed for a little more than 4,000 yards in his career playing behind bad offensive lines and for a truly awful team. Right now, he is likely the man to replace Pro Bowl running back, DeMarco Murray, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles over the offseason, as this team’s starter.
Host R.J. Choppy asked Smith if it’s disrespectful to Murray what the Cowboys are doing - believing their offensive line is so good they can just use anybody to replace his production.
“It’s disrespectful to all running backs, to be honest with you,” Smith said. “You can say arrogant, but it’s definitely disrespectful. ... The league has gotten very comfortable with this plug-and-play system. When you have zone blocking, or a system to what the Denver Broncos used to have in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, they think like that.”
Smith also said he is not necessarily surprised the team signed controversial defensive end Greg Hardy, or used their second round pick on Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, who was loaded with character questions before the draft.
“I honestly believe (owner) Jerry (Jones) had a heart-to-heart conversation with Hardy and his agent, and this kid (Gregory) and his agent,” Smith said. “At the end of the day this is an opportunity and you are playing for one of the best organizations in the entire world. You can either turn this thing into something positive by taking this platform you have with the Dallas Cowboys, and make an impact on the country and on the world. Or, you can be very selfish and continue to do the same things. But once I let you go, there ain’t going to be too many people willing to touch you.
“You have an opportunity. It’s up to the player to make up in his mind that this is an opportunity; this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Because I’m going to tell you right now, once the game is over for you it’s going to be very hard for you to replace $200,000 or $300,000, or $1 million dollars here and there. It doesn’t pop up on your door steps, talking about, ‘Here I am’. It’s not a sweepstakes opportunity.
“Look at it like - this is your job, this is your profession, grow up, be a man, become a professional athlete, and then allow your talent to make room for you for when the game is over and do things with it. Figure out that piece. Because when the game is over, there aren’t many folks that have the opportunity to do the things that we do.”
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760