Tackling the opioid crisis
On the football field, Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith was electrifying and was part of the Dallas Cowboys dynasty in the 1990s. Now he is making waves with his off-the-field moves. Smith has joined the Ready to Rescue campaign to raise awareness about the rising number of opioid overdose deaths across the United States.”With fentanyl doing what it’s doing in terms of taking people’s lives, opioid overdoses taking people’s lives, we’re just trying to educate and bring more awareness around the epidemic itself,” Smith said. “I know for me, personally, I’ve lost a former teammate. I had a friend lose his son; my sister-in-law also suffered from it as well.”
Smith was a first-round pick in the 1990’s draft and played 15 seasons, and was the cornerstone of the Cowboys offense for 13 seasons. Smith amassed many records that still stand today, including most career rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Smith’s impressive resume includes three Super Bowl championship rings and his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Smith has also partnered with Emergent BioSolutions to emphasize the effects of the opioid crisis on the public and to educate people on how to be prepared to help save a life in an opioid overdose emergency. “What we’re trying to do is make sure that people have the opportunity to get the Narcan nasal spray in their hands,” Smith said. “Have it in their home, have it in their purse, have it in their pockets, and carry it with them at any point in time because we all are around something pretty deadly and pretty potent.
During Smith’s NFL career, he dealt with injuries but rarely used painkillers because his pain tolerance is high. He understood, however, that other players might not have been able to say the same. “It’s not that I didn’t use them. It’s the fact that I used them in limited scope and took myself off them fairly quickly,” Smith said. “I’ve been known as a player that had a very high level of pain tolerance, but everybody may not have the same level of pain tolerance. And so, for me, being educated early enough in my career to wean off some heavy medicine, I try to allow myself to heal up in the most natural way that I possibly could.”
Smith’s best advice for young athletes is to watch their intake of painkillers and not become overly reliant on them during their careers. “Now tell them the same thing. ‘Alright, I want you to take this medicine. Probably no more than two or three days,” Smith said. “After that, you need to start getting yourself off that medicine and start working your way to some level of normalcy and do not go back to it. Get rid of it, and let’s just start living a normal life and allow the body to do what it needs to do.”