Emmitt Smith and Me
Football great Emmitt Smith was just inducted into the Hall of Fame. I had the great pleasure of playing golf with Emmitt a few years back. It is a round I will never forget.
It was interesting to spend time with a celebrity. He could not have been a nicer guy, even expressing genuine interest in Freakonomics, which he had not read but asked a lot of questions about. On every hole, there were fans lining the fairway with #22 Dallas Cowboy jerseys and other paraphernalia (although he pointed out, with some chagrin, that more people wanted to talk to him about Dancing with the Stars – which he won – than about football). He could not have been more accommodating of his fans. In fact, somewhere along the way a tournament marshal stopped us and told Emmitt we were falling too far behind the group in front of us because of all his autograph signing. After that, Emmitt told the fans that he couldn’t sign during the round, but he would stay after the 18th hole to sign as many autographs as people wanted.
Around hole 13, a father and daughter were camped out along the fairway, both wearing Emmitt jerseys. The daughter was in a wheelchair. I think she also had a Cowboys blanket and hat on. As we walked by, the father called out to Emmitt, asking if we would stop and sign the items. Emmitt said, admittedly somewhat tersely, he would do it after the round and kept walking. The father persisted, calling repeatedly for Emmitt to return. I walked over to the guy and explained how the marshal had forbidden Emmitt from signing during the round. The guy was unmoved and just kept yelling down the fairway to Emmitt that he was letting down his biggest fan. Emmitt didn’t stop and didn’t turn around. Suddenly, the dad took his Cowboys hat off and threw it on the ground. He did the same with his Dallas Cowboys jersey. The girl in the wheelchair threw the Cowboys blanket on the ground. Soon she did the same with her #22 jersey. Now screaming obscenities at Emmitt, the father wheeled the daughter away, their treasured Emmitt collectibles scattered in the rough. I looked back a minute later and some other youngsters were quietly celebrating their incredible good fortune – it is not every day that you find a bounty of Dallas Cowboys memorabilia just lying there on the ground!
Emmitt did indeed stay and sign autographs for a very long time next to the 18th green. The girl in the wheelchair’s jersey did get signed. And I’m sure the kids who picked it up off the ground and waited for Emmitt at the 18th green cherish it to this day.