From the 49ers-Cowboys NFC championship rivalry all the way through their respective successful stints on "Dancing With The Stars," Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith have had an intriguing link as the two of the premier record-breakers to play football.
In a game where what matters most is scoring touchdowns, they rank Nos. 1 and 2 in NFL history. Rice leads with 208 career touchdowns, followed by Smith with 175.
So it's appropriate they are being enshrined as Hall of Famers together on Saturday night in Canton, Ohio, because they've both set the bar high at their positions with their durability and work ethic.
As the game's documentarian, NFL Films president Steve Sabol has seen plenty of footage of both men in action, talked to hundreds of personnel men and players and coaches about these two greats. For Sabol, the proof of their dominance lies in the numbers.
Take Rice's most impressive number: 22,985 receiving yards. That total is 34 percent higher than that of the No. 2 man on the career receiving list, Isaac Bruce.
"Rice just doesn't hold records; he dominates categories," Sabol said. "His career stands as the statistical Everest over the landscape of football."
As for Smith, the NFL's career rushing record (18,355 yards) comes with an even more impressive stat.
"The most enduring thing about Emmitt is how many carries he had and then how many times he was hit," Sabol said.
Although Rice and Smith often left opponents flustered, along the way, they gained respect from the players and coaches they faced.
"They were incredible at what they did, and you also remember them for being the two of the well-conditioned athletes you'll ever see," said former Bears and Saints coach Mike Ditka, now an analyst for ESPN. "I certainly enjoyed watching them in every way.
"They both gave everything they ...
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