Daryl Johnston Jersey

Longtime Cowboys broadcaster Brad Sham recently sat down with Cowboys legend and FOX Sports broadcaster Daryl Johnston on his show Then and Now to talk about his time with the Cowboys. Here are some of the highlights, edited for clarity.

At what point did you understand that Emmitt Smith was going to be like your little brother?

Daryl Johnston: “Here’s the weird thing about our relationship… Here’s a guy up in Syracuse, New York, playing football who sees the front cover of the USA Today sports page and sees this young man down in Escambia, Florida, putting up some crazy numbers in high school and I started following his career while I was a Syracuse. I followed him at the University of Florida. So, when he gets drafted, I know quite a bit about him. I was a fan. And had followed him. My wife has always told me you’re divinely led… I just think this is another example. That Emmitt and I were destined to be together for some reason. And God chose to put us together in the backfield of the Dallas Cowboys. Some people might say that’s crazy, but there’s no reason for him to have grabbed my attention in central New York and for me to be aware of him.

“The thing with him… he always wanted more. He was the first guy I saw at the running back position go outside of the training room to make sure his body was as close to 100 percent as it could possibly be from week to week so he could perform at a high level. He always wanted to learn more. So, the one time that I do always remember and… you know, I want to win football games. I learned this from Troy Aikman: Stats are not the most important things, wins are. So, for me, I was the third-down back in the passing game. I knew protections. But wouldn’t we be better on third down if we had a guy with the potential to take it to the house every time he gets the ball thrown to him in the flat? That potential really didn’t exist with me. So, I started to teach him how to group protections together — protections in the NFL are a little bit confusing.

“It took Emmitt awhile. And part of that transition was working together and me showing him how — you’re trying to learn groups. Take this group and bunch it here. Take this group and bunch it here. Now learn the sections. Where are your eyes focused? Why would you look over there? — that’s not even important to you. It doesn’t concern you. That’s where we really grew together really close. And we sat next to each other our whole career together. In the meeting room and film room we sat right next to each other.

“Even though I lined up one and a half to two yards ahead of Emmitt, what he saw as opposed to what I saw was completely different. There were a lot of times that he would cut back or go out the back door — the play is designed to go to the right and it looks really good to the right and then all of a sudden there goes Emmitt out the back door to the left for 11 yards. I’m like what are you seeing? Because it looked clean when I went through. He goes, ‘It’s a completely different picture.’ So, he got me to slow down a little bit. Just a fraction. And told me where his eyes would be on certain fronts so I could see what was developing. There were a couple times when we could go out the back door together — and when that happens, there’s nobody there. He doesn’t have to make a guy miss because I’m right there in front of him.”