Pensacola’s Emmitt Smith returned to the Gulf Coast Wednesday to give back to an organization that launched him on the way to football stardom.
Smith was the special guest at the Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama luncheon at the Battle House Hotel. Smith did a question and answer session with News 5 Sports Director Randy Patrick in which he reflected on his time at playing at the Salvation Army on Q Street in Pensacola. Smith said that is where he played on his first organized football teams at the age of eight and nine.
“Without the support of the Salvation Army and the organization within our neighborhood, I don’t know I would have been able to play organized football the way I started,” Smith said.
Smith later played at Bellview Park in West Pensacola before starring at Escambia High School.
Thirty years later, the football talent continues to flow out of Pensacola and the surrounding area.
“I’m living in Texas right now and they say in Texas, football is religion,” Smith said. “But in the southeast it’s religion as well. For a lot of kids here, fortunately or unfortunately, sports are a way out.”
Emmitt’s been successful in his post playing career as a TV analyst, a retail and commercial developer, and a performer on “Dancing with the Stars.”
He now spends a lot of time watching his son E.J. play football. A running back like his dad, E.J. is just a freshman in high school but is already getting a lot of attention from college scouts.