When Hall-of-Fame Running Back, Emmitt Smith retired early in 2005, he already planned out the second half of his life.
He knew that among people who weren’t fans, or football buddies of his — especially outside of the markets where they play — were often more shielded from public recognition than other athletes.
“Unlike basketball and other sports where you’re able to see the faces clearer,” Smith said. “That’s the challenge that most football players have to overcome.” And Smith didn’t intend for his public life to end after football.
“I went and studied and — learned about the real estate development business,” he said. He is now the “Smith” in a joint venture called Smith-Cypress Partners, which includes former Cowboy quarterback Roger Staubach.
His big third-season win on “Dancing With The Stars” in 2006 gave him priceless exposure of both his face and personality. But not all football players have had the same luck as Emmitt.
In the aftermath of former All-Pro linebacker Junior Seau’s suicide in 2012, Emmitt Smith took to Twitter to express his condolences. He also reached out to current and former players to wake up to the new reality facing all of them regarding life after football and the issues of head trauma and depression.
Smith, who is not only the league’s all-time leading rusher but who also has more carries than anyone in NFL history, admits he worries if the game will take a toll on him mentally and physically one day.
“Why wouldn’t I worry?” Smith said. “The evidence is starting to pile up. You are talking to a guy who carried the ball more than anybody in NFL history. I pray about it.”