When the diminutive, but tough-as-nails running back Emmitt Smith left Florida and assumed the backfield for the Dallas Cowboys, few believed that he could be as dominating as former Dallas Hall of Famer and speedster Tony Dorsett.

Special on Emmitt Smith 1992

1992 NFL Live Interview w/ Tony Dorsett & Emmitt Smith. I do not own the rights this clip. All footage belongs to the NFL.

Smith won the NFL’s 1990 Offensive Rookie of the Year award and didn’t look back. 

Smith didn’t appear to have Dorsett's speed, athleticism or physical skills, but Smith eventually became the waking billboard for not judging a book by its cover as he didn’t  just surpass Dorsett as the best Cowboys back in history,  but he finished an illustrious career as the all-time leading rusher in NFL history and a candidate for GOAT status. 

Smith, who celebrate his 49th birthday today,  had a glorious accolade-field career, winning three Super Bowls and making eight Pro Bowls and providing fans with moments that are irreplaceable in NFL lore. In a game where giants ruled the land, the 5-foot-9 Smith was a firecracker that packed the punch of a missile and the strength of Black Lightning.  

Let’s Take A Look At The Top 3 moments in Smith's career. 

1. The defining game of Emmitt Smith’scareer came in 1993 against archrival New York Giants. Smith was in tremendous pain and ailing from a separated shoulder that the Giants repeatedly targeted. 

Smith took a pounding against a formidable defense and kept getting hit, but always got back up and powered Dallas to an unforgettable 16-13 overtime in which solidified Smith’s iconic status among the greats of his era.  Playing with an injury that would have confined  most backs to the pine Smith added 10 receptions to his contributions and  even the most passionate Cowboys hater had to salute the God for his performance. 

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Ask John Madden: Emmitt Smith's signature game came against the Giants, when he carried the Cowboys to victory with a separated shoulder.

2.  In 1994, his fifth year in the NFL, Smith capped a tremendous season by collecting the Super Bowl XXVIII MVP trophy. The Cowboys blitzed the Buffalo Bills in a game that saw the gridiron greatness of Smith shine on the sport’s world’s biggest stage. Smith obliterated Marv Levy’s four-time Super Bowl losing squad with 158 all-purpose yards.

"Emmitt Smith You Just won The Super Bowl, What Next?"

I'M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!" from super bowl 28

3. On October 27th , 2002 the unthinkable occurred when Smith  passed the incomparable Walter “Sweetness” Payton on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 109 yards against the Seahawks. 

With the way the NFL has become a pass first lead, it’s unlikely that Smith’s mark of  18,355 rushing yards will ever be surpassed. It’s almost an unbreakable record, similar to Joe DiMaggio’s MLB record 56-game hitting streak which began today in 1941.  

Emmitt Smith BREAKS RUSHING RECORD

Jerry Jones Presenting Emmitt Smith at 2010 Hall of Fame in Ohio. Sunday Aug-8 NFL network