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Emmitt Smith On His Combine Experience And Health Before And After Playing Days

The most decorated running back in NFL history shares more insights to his NFL life. We look at his combine experience coming into the league and much more.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Today marked the skill position's time to shine in Indianapolis, as the quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs took to the field at the Scouting Combine. The Combine has a lot more merit than most people give it credit for, although it does seem to lead to a lot of over evaluation by some front offices as they try their best to balance film and comparing prospects with each other.

While no one will deny that any "regular joe" would sign up for whatever it took to make the kind of money these hopefuls are vying for, there is definitely something a bit awkward about what has become known as the Underwear Olympics. The poking, the prodding, measuring and the like, can be a cold and off-putting experience for those involved and some that look on.

Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith is able to laugh it off now, but it seems like he was unnerved by his Combine experience back in the day. We talked about that and a couple other health-related subjects in our chat the other day.

Do you remember your combine coming into the league?

I do remember it. I remember going up to get my physical, I'll never forget this one experience. Laying up on the training table, having about five doctors from different teams walking around. One pulling my arm, another pulling my leg and doing all these tests and talking into their tape recorders. And no one is saying a word to me. And then when they get done, "OK thank you, next." (laughs)

I remember that experience vividly. I remember how cold it was up in Indy, and not wanting to run because it was cold outside and feeling like I couldn't get warm enough inside. Not running at all, not really doing a whole lot of testing up there. I just went for the physical, and to meet some of the scouts, take whatever tests I needed to take. Got back on the plane and flew back to the University of Florida."

We moved on to talk about his health now that his playing days are over. Smith is trying to get the word out to the public in relation to an ailment he's currently suffering from.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals and I are out on a mission to let people know that they aren’t in this fight by themselves. Even the all-time leading rusher and Dancing With The Stars Champ Emmitt Smith has suffered from gout. And what I’ve done to help manage my flare-ups is I’ve gone to my local physician, got my evaluation and found out that my uric acid levels were extremely high. They were not at the normal range where they needed to be and those flare-ups are very, very painful.

In fact, this is the most pain I’ve been in since retirement, since I played the game of football. Now, I’m on a program to help me manage my flare-ups and manage my uric acid levels. I have an appointment to see my physician, to see how the program is working for me…

So, I just want the 8 million Americans to know this, if you need information about gout, go to and you can get as much information as you possibly can before you go to see your doctor.

We circled back to his playing days, and the way that he seemed to always avoid major contact as a way to preserve health over his illustrious career. Last season, the normally collision-seeking Demarco Murray went out of his way to avoid such impacts.

I think Murray really wanted an opportunity to really shoulder the load. I think you have to learn how to preserve your body, the older you get you definitely have to learn… There’s a point and time when you gotta have the contact.

One of my coaches, Clarence Shelman told me this one day "Know when the journey is over. Don’t be fighting for inches unless you absolutely gotta have it. Outside of that, know when the journey is over." And that’s one way of preserving your body, knowing when to get down, when not to get down, when to fight and when not to fight. Because in this league, players are coming, defenses are flying to the ball… as a player I have to learn that instinctive way of protecting your body, because everybody’s out to get a good shot at you.


If you'd like to know Emmitt's take on the Cowboys committment to the run game, check out Part I here. Still to come, Emmitt's views on why running is so important and what he thinks about the Cowboys offense under new signal caller Scott Linehan.

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