ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals RB David Johnson’s idol, Emmitt Smith, reaches out to him

Dec 21, 2016, 4:40 PM | Updated: Dec 22, 2016, 5:37 pm
Arizona Cardinals' Emmitt Smith (22) is stopped for a short gain by Miami Dolphins' Sammy Knight in...
Arizona Cardinals' Emmitt Smith (22) is stopped for a short gain by Miami Dolphins' Sammy Knight in the first half Sunday, Nov. 7, 2004, in Miami. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
(AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

Cardinals running back David Johnson saw Emmitt Smith’s spin moves and jump-cuts. His love of football grew around the desire to unnecessarily recreate them as a young child and physically punish his opponents in Pop Warner football, just as his Dallas Cowboy idol did on the NFL field.

Johnson wrote about his obsession with Smith, the Hall of Fame running back, at The Players’ Tribune this week in an article titled “A Tribute to My Idol, Emmitt Smith.”

The piece, from a current Cardinals running back to a past one, closed with this realization: “I’ve somehow never met Emmitt Smith.”

Johnson, a first-time Pro Bowler in his second NFL season, probably won’t have to wait much longer to do so.

Smith saw the article and on Twitter posted a video thanking the current Cardinals running back for looking up to him as a child.

“David Johnson, I saw the article and your tribute to Emmitt Smith, bro. It was definitely heartwarming and definitely, definitely I felt your spirit,” Smith said. “Thank you so much for picking me out as the one you wanted to watch ’cause you had many, many choices. I don’t know what it is about me that captured your mind, your emotions and your imagination. I’m just thankful God placed me in your heart and in your spirit. Good luck to you and the Arizona Cardinals, good luck to you and your career.

“Give me a call anytime if you want to talk about anything, God bless.”

With two games remaining in 2016, Johnson is chasing NFL history. He is the first player to record 100 yards from scrimmage in every one of his first 14 games and would break a record with 16 games of 100 combined rushing and receiving yards in every outing for a season.

“He’s my childhood idol, guy I looked up to, the reason I played football and wanted to play running back,” Johnson said Wednesday after watching Smith’s video. “It meant a lot just to see him relay the message back, letting me know he read the tribute. It’s very cool to see him make a video like that.”

He is also hoping to become the third member of the 1,000/1,000 club of players who have each rushed and received for 1,000 yards in a single season.

The Northern Iowa product is sitting at 1,138 rushing yards with 13 touchdowns and 800 receiving yards with four more scores so far.

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Cardinals RB David Johnson’s idol, Emmitt Smith, reaches out to him