Emmitt Smith’s time with the Arizona Cardinals


The Hall of Fame running back decided to extend his brilliant career by playing a couple of seasons with the Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals couldn’t help themselves. The temptation to bring to the desert one the most talented, classy individuals to ever play in the NFL was too great. No matter how “over the hill” he was as a player.

So, in March of 2003, the Cardinals signed Emmitt Smith. They had to have known they wouldn’t be acquiring the Dallas Cowboys’ legend who had made so many Sundays miserable for Cards’ fans. But maybe they had an ulterior motive .

The Arizona franchise in ’03 was floundering. They had not had a winning season since their playoff campaign of 1998. They were 5-11 in 2002, good for last place in the NFC West, their brand new division.

With attendance lacking at Sun Devil Stadium, there were whispers that the ulterior motive for the Smith acquisition was to fill seats. If true, that would be a horrible reason for signing a player. But considering the organization’s condition at the time, it wouldn’t have been out of the question.

His first season with the club was disastrous. Before suffering a broken scapula in October against, ironically, his former team, he had rushed for just 192 yards in five games. He was able to return from the injury, but finished the year with only 256 yards on the ground (a paltry 2.8 yards per carry), and two touchdowns.

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Smith rebounded in 2004, gaining 937 yards and an impressive nine touchdowns on the ground. They were by no means Smith-type numbers, but respectable nevertheless.

NFL fans who don’t follow the Cardinals may not even remember Smith’s pit stop in the Valley of the Sun. Cowboys’ fans probably wish it never happened, and that he retired having only played for Dallas.

But the fact remains. Cards’ worshippers got to witness one of the greatest players in NFL history performing before their eyes. You can’t put a price on that.