Escambia High School was overjoyed to welcome back its hometown legend, Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, on Tuesday, Sept. 24 in Pensacola, Fla., during his “Hometown Hall of Famers™” ceremony presented by Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Escambia High School students, staff, cheerleaders, band members and athletes, as well as members of the Pensacola community joined together to help honor their great alumnus.
Following the presentation of colors, Escambia High School Principal Mike Sherrill welcomed guests and provided a brief biography of Emmitt Smith’s journey to success. He recounted the first time he witnessed Smith play football in high school noting how he immediately knew he was destined for greatness.
A highlight video of Smith’s career was viewed by the audience before Allstate representative David Seckinger took the stage. “On behalf of Allstate and all our agents in the Pensacola area, I am privileged to help honor the legacy of Pro Football Hall of Fame member Emmitt Smith in the place where it all began,” Seckinger said.
Smith’s former coach and longtime friend, Jimmie Nichols, served as the plaque presenter during the ceremony. He shared stories with the audience that exhibited Smith’s talent on and off the football field. “Emmitt is a great person and a great player,” Nichols said. “But more importantly, he’s a team player.”
Smith was given a warm welcome as he entered from the back of the gymnasium through a balloon arch as the band played. Following the unveiling of the plaque, Smith took to the podium to provide a motivational speech to all in attendance. He emphasized what it means to be a part of a team to the students and how important it is to not focus solely on yourself. He cited one story of how he was once tackled during practice when his offensive linemen laid down because his coaches wanted to make a point. The point the he could not be successful on his own was made and stuck with Smith throughout his career.
He inspired students to achieve greatness saying, “Everyone here has the chance to become the best you, that you can be.” After the conclusion of his speech, Smith answered several questions from students in the audience. Questions ranged from “What is the best piece of advice you can give to students at Escambia High School?” to “What was it like to win ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and the Super Bowl?”
Additional speakers included Brock Richards of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises. “I am pleased and honored Emmitt Smith chose Escambia High School to receive a piece of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Richards said.
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative Emmitt Smith “Hometown Hall of Famers™” road sign will be on display in Pensacola.
A running back from the University of Florida, Smith was a first-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990 NFL Draft. The Offensive Rookie of the Year helped bring the Cowboys back to the top of the NFL, leading them to three Super Bowl wins. In 1993, he was named the NFL MVP and Super Bowl XVIII MVP.
Smith won four rushing crowns during a five year span and had a record-run of 11 straight seasons with 1,000 yards rushing. In 2002, he became the NFL’s all-time rushing leader.
After spending two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Smith retired with a career total of 18,355 yards and an NFL-record 164 rushing touchdowns. He added 515 receptions for 3,224 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was named first-team All-Pro four times and is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s, Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Gator Football Ring of Honor, University of Florida Athletics Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.
Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
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