Emmitt Smith, Maverick Speaker

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You recently spoke on campus about “A Championship Vision.” What does that mean?

It’s seeing where you really want to go and developing a plan on how you want to get there. You always have to have a plan to achieve your vision. I wanted to play pro football, and that’s been achieved; now I’m working on the plan to make sure the rest of my life happens the way I want it to.

What have you been doing since retiring from the NFL?

I started a real estate company back in 2005 called Smith-Cypress Partners. And since 2008 I’ve had my own commercial real estate company called ESmith Legacy. I also started a construction company that handles a lot of civil work. The Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities organization we founded has also played a major role since retiring.

Talk about your new book, Game On.

It’s more than just a book about football; it’s about my life. Sometimes people look at professional athletes and see people who have never struggled. But I try to let them know that we’re no different than anyone else. We’ve had to deal with obstacles along the way.

Why was it important to finish your college degree?

I spend a lot of time speaking to young people, and I think it’s important to stay in school. I felt it was very important for my message that I had my degree in my hand. I was eager to go get it and be the first in my family to graduate with a four-year college degree.

Have you ever thought about getting a master’s degree? How about coming to UT Arlington for that?

Over the last six years, I’ve learned a lot from the people in this city, and I’m learning more every day. Right now I’m learning the most from running my businesses. I don’t have plans to get another degree, but if I did, then sure, I’d consider UT Arlington to make that happen.

What kind of synergies might develop between the Cowboys and UT Arlington?

The proximity to the stadium gives UT Arlington the opportunity to create a strategic partnership with the Cowboys. Students can get internships, work experience, volunteer experience, or just go and gain knowledge. It’s great to marry the two together and create some kind of educational experience.

What’s more difficult—the NFL or the business world?

The business world to me, because I have to deal with the question of “what does he know about real estate and construction and running a business?” Football was a part of my life, but it wasn’t my whole life. I’m having to prove myself more now.

Which championship means more—the Super Bowl or Dancing with the Stars?

I appreciate both of them. Dancing with the Stars allowed people to see and recognize me out of a helmet. Football was where my talents were, and the Super Bowl was the best game ever to play in. But on Dancing with the Stars, I was the underdog, and to come out as the champion felt good after all the work we put in.

Do you still dance?

Yes, I do. In fact, I have a dance lesson today.

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