Pearson turns to Smith. "Why not come out of that game?" he asks.
Smith thinks for a moment. "I play for the love of the game and for my teammates," he says. "We laugh, cry, hurt, win, lose together."
"There just seems to be something different here, in the locker room, doesn't there?" says Pearson.
The players discuss this, though they acknowledge that they don't know what the mood is in other teams' locker rooms. "I do know that you can't have thin skin on this team," says Agee.
"Has to be thick," agrees Smith. "People mess with you. Like just today, Michael Irvin didn't know it, but he practiced the whole day with a banana under his shoulder pads."
Getting into the limo for the ride home, Smith seems blissfully unaware of the fans in the parking lot pressing toward him for autographs. He is questioned about a quote from his recently published autobiography, The Emmitt Zone. It reads, "Every so often, if an athlete is lucky, he meets an older man who makes him a better young man." In Smith's case, the older man was Dwight Thomas, his coach at Escambia High in Pensacola, Fla. Smith is asked if he has met another man as influential as Thomas; would Jerry Jones qualify?
"No," Smith says. "But even Jerry you can learn from." Smith still has not recovered from last year's contract dispute, during which, he believes, Jones treated him shabbily. But, he adds, he won't let his teammates suffer for it. "What Jerry did to me is not my teammates' fault."
And then he is gone into the night.