There are few running backs in today’s NFL as talented as Arizona’s David Johnson. There is however no shortage of football players everywhere, from the NFL down to youth football, that idolize Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame RB Emmitt Smith.
David Johnson, drafted by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Northern Iowa, wrote this moving piece recently in the Player’s Tribune about his long-time obsession with everything Emmitt Smith.
I was in the fifth grade when I first tried to be Emmitt Smith on the football field. And, let me tell you, it was pretty ridiculous. I took a handoff in the backfield, surveyed the defense, and noticed that I had a shot for a big run if I played my cards right.
In the above video, Johnson met Smith for the first time, and the lighthearted conversation that the two had about their craft as ball carriers along with life in general is a joy to watch.
The article does even more to put Cowboys Nation in a time machine to the 90’s, as Johnson writes about being a Cowboys fan because of #22 before he even fully understood the magnitude of being a fan of America’s Team:
“Soon after, I remember being in art class and drawing a star with a 22 in the middle as part of a project. I didn’t really get what made Emmitt so great at that point, but I knew, just from the way my relatives talked about him, that he had to be something special.”
Fast forward now to the 2017 season, and David Johnson will be featured as one of the best running backs in the league for a dynamic Cardinals offense that saw him rush for 1,239 yards in 2016.
The same will be said about Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys – who earned Emmitt Smith’s respect from the night he was drafted. Their phenomenal second-year running back comes off of a rookie season with 1,631 yards on the ground.
We’ll even get our first of what could be many meetings between Elliott’s Cowboys and Johnson’s Cardinals in 2017, as Dallas will visit Arizona. Thanks in large part to the aura the Cowboys once built, predominantly with stars like Emmitt Smith, a common thread in this game featuring premier running backs will be the league’s all time leading rusher in Emmitt.
“…now that I’m in the league, I try my best to do most of the things that Emmitt excelled at as a runner — the things that impressed me so much as a little kid.”
The running back position is prevalent in the National Football League once again, as is the fraternity of great players at the position.
This is why we love football.