Life After Football for Emmitt Smith

Dancing judge Carrie Ann Inaba told Smith, "I think every man watches you, and they're like, 'Yeah, that's the way I wanna dance!'"

A Different Audience

Pat Smith noticed immediate changes in public response to Smith.

"I mean, literally, I've gotten knocked over, almost, by guys trying to get to my husband. And now, to see women responding to him the same way -- it just blows my mind."

An E-Poll Market Research survey quantified the results.

A poll showed that Smith's public "total awareness" numbers had increased 25 percent. His "name awareness" was up 20 percent. His "face awareness" increased 40 percent.

The poll also showed increases for Smith in qualities such as "approachable," "articulate," "classy," "handsome," "intriguing," "versatile" and "warm."

"Strategically," said Smith, going on the show "was the right move. It helped me transition from the game and gain a whole, totally different audience."

What that translates into is a substantially more valuable brand name and better access in business.

"Now that I'm in business, this is a great branding opportunity for Emmitt Smith, the brand, and how I can take the brand and transfer that equity over into my business."

Smith first began to make lists of his goals as he grew up in the projects of Pensacola, Fla. His father was a city bus driver. His mother worked at a nursing home.

When he wanted a pair of designer jeans and went to his mother for the money, he said, "She said, 'I can't afford those. But if you go get you a job, then you can buy whatever you want to buy.' And so I got a job at the nursing home that she was working at. And I cut the grass. I mopped the floors. I helped the elderly move around. I changed bed linens and trimmed the hedges."

The lesson was clear, Smith said.

"From that point on, I started creating ways to go out and earn a living. And I learned that hard work and commitment and dedication definitely pays off. But I also learned, when I made the money and my mother asked to borrow some -- I felt good giving it away. And that, to me, was an unbelievable feeling."

What put Smith over the top on "Dancing With the Stars" was his ability -- literally and figuratively -- to break through the image he had as a tough and stoic running back and to waltz, from one phase of life into the next, multiplying the value of his name as he did it.

Running backs have to have a low center of gravity. Waltzers defy it.

"Football was great," Smith said. "Business is even better. Always, through my whole life, I've had a thirst for knowledge. Football was one vehicle to take me to one end of the road, but I'm tryin' to make it to the other end."

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