"If you were to ask me what Emmitt will be doing at two in the afternoon on November the 14th of this year, I could look at his calendar and tell you," says Horace Irwin Jr., executive vice president of Emmitt Smith Communications. "He really doesn't have a life of his own. People call and say, Can Emmitt do this? or Can Emmitt do that? and we look at his schedule, and the date's already taken. We feel bad about it, having to tell them no all the time, but Emmitt's a busy man."
Despite his commitments Emmitt will surprise you on occasion. Take, for instance, the grand opening last October of his Dallas cellular phone business. Emmitt arrived at the Preston Road address at seven in the morning, before most of his employees, his eyes bright with expectation. The phones started to ring, and Emmitt answered one. "Emmitt Smith Communications," he said. "This is Emmitt."
His name inspired silence on the other end. It couldn't be Emmitt, not the one who plays for the Cowboys.
"It is me," Emmitt said. "Now how can I help you?"
Later that day Emmitt returned to the store and asked his staff how things were going. Everybody said, "Great." Sales were brisk, customers seemed satisfied. Emmitt was wearing a serious expression on his face. He asked for the folders of 10 customers. The folders held invoices with the names and phone numbers of people who had bought things at the store that day.
Emmitt went into an office and closed the door. He opened a file and found a name and called the person and said, "Hello, this is Emmitt Smith of Emmitt Smith Communications. You came by our business today, and I just wanted to know how the service was. Did everything go all right?"
Again, some of those he called didn't believe it was really Emmitt. They laughed and stammered and succumbed to mild fits of hysteria. Didn't he have more important things to do? With the football season in full swing, could he possibly have time to phone a complete stranger and ask how his new cellular service was working out?
"If we can be of any help," Emmitt said, "please don't hesitate to call or come by."
"There are so many qualities that Emmitt possesses, and the most impressive one is that he's a good person," says Joe Brodsky, the Cowboys' running backs coach. "Emmitt was brought up properly. He knows where he's going at all times and how to get there. He's what I call a complete grinder, meaning he's totally focused and will do anything it takes to win. I don't think there's a selfish bone in Emmitt's body. He'd give it all up—everything—for the team."
Back when Emmitt was a student at Escambia High in Pensacola, his football coach used to say, "It's a dream until you write it down. Then it's a goal." And Emmitt never forgot that. He all but branded the words on his heart, and he was always writing things down. When Emmitt was a rookie, before he had even played his first game, one of his Dallas teammates, safety James Washington (now with the Washington Redskins), stopped by to visit him at his apartment and found Emmitt sitting and writing things like "Rookie of the Year" and "leading rusher" on a piece of paper.