Smith has a chance to break the record Sunday as the Cowboys to take on the Seattle Seahawks, who are ranked last in the league in rush defense surrendering 189.5 yards per game.
Payton has held the record of 16,726 rushing yards since passing Jim Brown on Oct. 7, 1984.
Starting a rookie quarterback, and facing the worst rush defense in the NFL lead to an obvious offensive attack for the Cowboys, run the ball. Emmitt should get his chances on Sunday, if he fails to obtain the record on Sunday though, he will surely break it on the road, as the Cowboys play their next two games at Detroit and Indianapolis.
Smith admitted he idolized Payton on the field, but he was much more than a football player.
"I liked the man for who he really was," Smith said. "I got to know the man personally, not because of what he does on the football field. I got to know the man. Most people don't know people, they know their jersey number, the team that he plays for, and what's on the back of his nameplate. I can honestly say that I had the chance to get to know him, and that part of him I like a lot. I really do, and it's very special.
"When you look at him and the way that he ran the ball, he carried it with a passion. He carried it with a vengeance. He wasn't the guy that shied away from contact. He had fun, and was determined. He just got the job done. He wasn't the biggest man, yet he was one of the most effective."