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Emmitt: 3 'Thumbs-Ups' Accompany A 'Bottom 10' Print E-mail
by Mike Fisher    Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 05:23 pm
Composing one of those cheap-shotty “Top 10 Goofiest Things Emmitt Smith Said At ESPN” lists is almost too easy. (And with Emmitt being ousted by the network this week, don’t think I’ll avoid my cheap-shotty list.) But along with it, I’m going to offer up a trio of thumbs-up for the all-time great Cowboy-turned-all-time bust broadcaster:




   *It’s not his fault. ESPN/ABC/Disney thought it had on its hands The Next Big Thing. They propped him up on “Dancing With The Stars’’ and they talked in-house about him someday hosting a Regis-style talk show. (As incredible as that now seems, yes, I’m serious.) And then, one spring day two years ago, they hired him and stuck him on ESPNews – with no Tele-Prompter and no notes and no preparation … and he was asked to riff on Michael Vick’s Must Love Dogs problem.

   And the segment was absolutely cringeworthy as Emmitt was completely lost. Didn’t know any of the facts of the story, didn’t know the legalities involved, didn’t have a grasp of the NFL’s reaction to it. All Emmitt knew is that he was pretty sure Vick was being picked on by law-enforcement officials.

   That day should’ve been a sign to the Disney folks that Emmitt needed to be brought back into the laboratory for further testing and tinkering. Somebody in charge should've realized that having a "teddy-bear lovability'' on camera during a dance show would not necessarily translate to the male viewership on a sports channel.

   Instead, he was released into the world. … with no training.

   Did he have the opportunity to, on his own, get himself the very best instruction? An acting coach? A diction coach? A journalism class or five? Maybe an English course over at the community college? Sure. But Emmitt – saddled with a dialect issue not uncommon in Florida and a lifetime of focusing on studying playbooks and not verb conjugation -- put himself in the hands of the most powerful media company in the world, and it let him down.

    *He’s got it in him. Way down deep, when it’s something he cares about, he can rise to the occasion. I saw him do it in the Cowboys locker room (though, admittedly, rarely). And most notably, he did it this winter at Reunion Arena when he was tabbed at the last minute to present Barack Obama at a Democratic rally. This time, he again had no Tele-Prompter, no notes, and no prep. (Here, he tells me the story of how that historic night came to be.)

    And he handled the big-stage circumstances with relative aplomb.

    *And the final thumbs-up: Emmitt James Smith III is the all-time leading rusher in NFL history. He is a diamond atop a pile of … Super Bowl victories. He is the man who millions of little American kids pretended to be when they scored backyard touchdowns. He will go to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility and all of that means much, much more than his lack of TV eloquence.

    And you know what? If someday Emmitt really wants to try broadcasting again. … I wouldn’t completely put it past him to find a way to make it work. Maybe.

    But for now. …

    We are left with the temporary soiling of Emmitt as a public figure. I say “temporary’’ because five, 10, 100 years from now, the most enduring YouTubes of Smith will not feature his stumbling tongue but rather his sweet feet.

    But for the moment, let’s acknowledge the temporary. …

    The “Top 10 Goofiest Things Emmitt Smith Said At ESPN”:


10. “Go to Arizona, sharp as a whistle, and do some finishing touches, so we can go down in the Super Bowl and play our best football of the whole entire season."

 9. "The NFC West is probably one of the weakest… conferences… in the whole NFC.”

8. "He's giving them all the confidences they need. He giving them the confidence that he need."

7. "They do a very good job of flying around the football field and carousing the football carrier."

6. "Don't worry about the game you just won or the team that we just blown. Blown out. Let's think about what we need to do . . . blew out. Uhhh going forward, and they had blown out."

5. "Eli Manning has been given the rice of patches."

4. "This kind of inconsistency play, against a team like New England, will get you completely blowed out."

3. " The Cowboys are like Jimmy Valvano. They, um, don't quit."

2. "The strength of the Patriots, their offense, got debacled."

1. “You cannot change the stripes of a leopard."

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Comments (2)add comment
written by RelicMM , February 27, 2009

He should do like some so called polished speakers that are lost without a teleprompter.

written by john k. , February 28, 2009

Theys understands him.

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