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Emmit Smith

Emmitt Smith Dances His Way into the NFL Hall of Fame

You probably won't believe this story; think I'm making it up; embellishing it.

But I don't care. Because I know it's true.

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In early 1987, I was living back in New Jersey after having left my heart in Gainesville on the footsteps of the University of Florida.

Working as an "office boy," I had little to do but lament the days gone by as an undergraduate. 

I'd pass the day reading the sport's sections of the Star-Ledger back when folks still read newspapers in hand while waiting for my next important office assignment. Things like making copies, running errands for the big shots, and feeling sorry for myself.

And on one particular day, I called a friend.

Looking for solace and, at best, a mental trip back in time (In fact, we just talked today. Still do after all these years).

"We got him, Mike," was his response to my nail-biting question.

Putting down the phone, I raced into the drafting room where the company architects and draftsmen (drafts people?) bid their time drawing. Lost in thoughts, I'm sure, of their days gone by; their lost chances too.

"We got him," I proudly proclaimed.

I was the excitable college boy. Come back home to roost after too much fun in the sun; too much time trying to get it back. Tail firmly between my weakened legs.

Oh they'd listen to me; hear me out. But this was a professional sports town, so it was mostly done to placate the kid.

SEC was a Wall Street term up here. They watched over a different sort of sport than I was used to.

Still, they indulged me on this day. Wanted to know who I was talking about. Who "he" was.

"Remember this name," I warned. "Because you'll hear about this guy in the future."

His name?

Emmitt Smith

The former Gatorade high school Player-of-the-Year had signed on with my Florida Gators on that day.

You know the rest of the story.

And as I read about Emmitt's entry today into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, my thoughts go back to that day in 1987.

A day much like today up here in the northeast.

Cold and snowy, my heart's warmed now by the good feelings he brought to me and all the card carrying members of the Gator Nation.

Mike Casella is a Contributor to GatorTailgating.com. 

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