Cowboys News & Notes

Emmitt Smith knew he was going to face the Cowboys this season. Arizona Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill told him it was going to happen. But there's no countdown until he plays his first game at Texas Stadium in another team's uniform.

He said the October 5th game against the Cowboys carries no more significance than any of the other 16 games on the schedule.

"The motivation is to play the game. I could care less whether it's the Cowboys or not," said Smith, who threw out the first pitch at the Rangers' home opener against Seattle on Friday. "I've got a 16-game schedule. My motivation is to help the Cardinals win and get to the playoffs and hopefully do well in the playoffs. If the Cowboys happen to be one stop on the schedule, then that's what it is."

The Cowboys released Smith on Feb. 27. He signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal with the Cardinals on March 27 that included a $2.5 million signing bonus and a $2.5 million base salary.

Although the Cowboys and Cardinals are no longer in the same division, Smith will face his former team twice this season, which came as a surprise to Smith. The Cowboys and Cardinals will play once during the preseason and once in the regular season.

"I'm just going to go out there and do the best job I can, and they are going to try to do their job the best they can," Smith said. "Hopefully, the team I am on is able to do it enough that we're able to win the game."

Friday marked the first time Smith had attended a major-league baseball game on Opening Day. On Thursday, he attended the Mavericks' game against the Lakers.

"To me, this is my home," said Smith, who'll be moving his family to Arizona soon. "I grew up here. This is where I'll probably end up bringing my family back to."

Smith said most of the fan reaction in Dallas has been positive since his signing with the Cardinals.

"I think people here share probably a lot of fond memories here that I share," Smith said.

"Unfortunately, everything did not work out that way for me to be here any longer, and now I have to go on and embrace a new season and a new team."

Smith threw a strike from the front of the mound. He gave the ball to Corey Fulbright, the Everman High School football player who was paralyzed after breaking his neck in last year's Class 3A state championship game. The team was honored before the game.

* Smith, the NFL's all-time rushing leader who now plays for Arizona, choked back tears and wiped his eyes as he thanked his hometown for recognizing him on Emmitt Smith Day in Pensacola, Escambia County and Florida.

The honors included naming a playing field after Smith at Escambia High School's L.D. McArthur Stadium, where he led the Gators to two state championships and earned national high school player of the year honors in 1987 before heading for the University of Florida.

* Jerry Jones said coach Bill Parcells likes having a bye after two games because it will give his team a break after what is expected to be a grueling training camp. It also will be an opportunity to make some early adjustments with the scheme or personnel.

"That's a good time to take a look at the direction we're going with parts of the team," Jones said, "and if we were going to make some adjustments, that's an ideal time to make them instead of making them on the run."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's one of those Emmitt things I'm not going to think about. It's Arizona as far as I'm concerned - not Emmitt Smith." * Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Emmitt Smith's return to Texas Stadium as a member of the Cardinals next season.

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