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.

I blogged right after the round about the outcome of my long driving contest with Emmitt. Here’s a hint as to who won.

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.

Russ A

This is the classic problem that professional athletes so often encounter. They can sign 500 autographs, but it is that 501st person who does not get their item signed who then complains to anyone who will listen (including the media) that "Player X" is a jerk who would not sign their jersey.


I think this more shows the Veruca Salt complex people who want autographs. After all, he was doing this AFTER it was explained that 1. Why they could not stop and 2. after you can get your autograph later.

NYTs Reader

I have relatives in Pensacola, and they all same the same thing about Emmitt. And the same thing about his father and his father before him. Just a great family.

After Ivan hit the Florida panhandle, Emmitt arranged for trucks loaded with essentials to be delivered to his hometown. He has also silently picked up the tab for many a high school court or field repair bill.

science minded

Point well taken.


I met Emmitt Smith during a charity golf tournament in NC. He was the nicest celebrity there and treated everyone with respect and kindness. His smile is completely genuine. I loved watching him on the football field, but nothing beats a true gentleman!!

ray bans on my face

Very interesting. One man follows the rules and invokes the furious disposal of garments, which resulted in an unintended wealth transfer. And everyone was made better off (in terms of utility and the value of Emmitt's autograph) because they still got Emmitt's autograph. I think this may be a Pareto improvement depending on the value of Emmitt Smith's time as well as the amount of utility he gained from signing autographs.


One major downside to celebrity in the modern media circus: Your positive attributes might be discussed very briefly, but your flaws will be headlines.


Hi Steve,

What did you shoot that day?

science minded

Dear Steve- So true in a way. But headlines come and go. Books don't. and I am limiting mine to science.


Emmitt Smith and Me? Emmitt Smith and I.


A hand shake is worth more than an autograph anyways.

Blake R.

Cool, he gives autogrphs away out of town, but here in Pensacola it's always $20....


As an avid autograph collector if I had $1 for every "I'll sign for you right after this" I'd be a millionaire. 90% of the time they tell you that and then run off or sneak out a back door.

Emmitt Smith charges $285 to sign a jersey.

Rick Peterson

I was at Lake Tahoe during the Pro Am golf tournament one year and Emmitt Smith has entered. I was at the hotel early in the morning and Emmitt Smith walked by. I had the gall to say "good morning" to a player a really admired. I didn't ask for an autograph or approach him in any way. I simply gave him a friendly "good morning". Big mistake. If looks could kill my wife and I would be dead. Then a few profanity laced comments as he quickly walked away. Emmitt Smith may be a great guy when the cameras are on but when he is away it the real man comes out. Absolute pathetic human being. I am glad you enjoyed your round with him but it is unfortunate that you didn't get to see the real Emmitt.