Smith: Hall of Famers should have actually played

Emmitt Smith was a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he was inducted last August. No big mystery there. The man is the all-time leading rusher in the history of the NFL after all. Well deserved.

But when asked about the latest batch of 15 finalists for their own busts, Smith believes that one name doesn’t belong with the others – Ed Sabol’s.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith strikes a pose for a chocolate bust sculpted by Jim Victor, right, at the Hershey's Times Square store (Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Hershey's)

“I think it takes a spot away from the guys that actually played the game,” said Smith. “I know Mr. Sabol did some great things for NFL Films, but that’s what it does. It eliminates an opportunity for someone who is on the bubble who could possible get in for their play.”

The list was cut down from 25 to 15 modern era candidates last weekend, before a final vote will be taken by the selection committee in Dallas the day before the Super Bowl.

As for just who Smith thinks is yellow jacket worthy out of the 15, he of course heaped praise on the three running backs in the mix – Marshall Faulk, Jerome Bettis and Curtis Martin.

“All three of those guys have more than 10,000 yards which has been the benchmark for becoming a Hall of Famer,” said Smith who finished his career with 18,355. “But Faulk is someone who changed the dynamics of the position by running the ball and catching it out of the backfield, which completely changed how backs were viewed. He was a first, second and third down player.”

Another lock according to Smith is Deion Sanders who he called, “One of the best corners to ever play the game, period.”

Also on the ballot is Smith’s teammate, Charles Haley, who is the only player in the history of the NFL to play on five winning Super Bowl teams.

“He changed the dynamic of the defense,” said Smith of the DE/LB. “He changed the way offenses had to prepare because they would have to put two or three guys on him, which freed up everyone else.”

While it’s unsure who will make the final cut, what is for certain is that Smith will be in Canton to welcome them, and is also offering a chance for someone to win a trip to induction weekend — replete with your own likeness carved out of Hershey’s chocolate. Smith, who had his own bust carved this week, says he might just have to take a nibble later.

“I want to just cut the ear off and eat my own ear,” laughed Smith.

Sigh. If only Hershey’s had been around during Van Gogh’s days. Tragedy could have been averted.

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