Legendary Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith looking to fight opioid overdoses

The Hall of Famer has teamed up with NARCAN in a campaign to spread awareness and save lives.

By Laura RiceNovember 3, 2023 12:54 pm,

Some professional athletes move around a lot during their careers. Others become practically synonymous with their teams.

That’s the case with legendary running back Emmitt Smith and the Dallas Cowboys.

The three-time Super Bowl champ and pro football Hall of Famer has now teamed up with NARCAN. A few months ago, it became the first Naloxone nasal spray approved to be sold over-the-counter.

Smith spoke with Texas Standard about this new initiative, as well as some reflections on his Texas ties. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: When did you first feel like a Texan?

Emmitt Smith: Probably in ’93, ’94. I actually felt like I could spend the rest of my life in Texas, and it ended up being that way. So Texas has been good to me. I hope I’ve been good to Texas, and I don’t plan on going to any other place.

So does that make you a Rangers fan or what?

Yes, I am a Rangers fan. I mean, even when when the Astros are playing the Rangers, I mean, I couldn’t not root for both teams because they’re both representing the state of Texas. And so right now, I was telling people, whichever team wins, I’m going for them regardless. And so it is what it is.

Besides your alma mater, Florida, and Stanford, your son’s team, other college teams you root for in football?

Yeah, I root for Miami. I don’t care that much for that school up north of Gainesville, the Florida State school. I root for them, root for Auburn. I even find myself rooting for Alabama on occasions.

Is that right? Fighting words in these parts. You’ve stayed a bit in the spotlight since your time on the field – first as an analyst, later on Dancing with the Stars. But you’re also a father of five. What’s been keeping you busy?

Business has been keeping me busy. I’ll tell you what, this Emergent and the Ready Rescue campaign has kept me busy, too, over recent weeks or so. But there’s a lot going on.

And with that campaign itself, my job is to bring more awareness around the struggles and awareness around opioid emergencies and so on. And what we’re trying to do is just to make sure that people are have an outlet, have a place to go.

You can go to narcan.com and get more information around the Narcan nasal spray and understand and get information around the opioid overdoses and equip yourself with knowledge, as well as going over the counter and buying your Narcan nasal spray – and having it in-house or having it on you just in case you run into an emergency. You’re equipped to hopefully save a person’s life. And so that has kept me busy.

Why, though, has this opioid epidemic become important to you?

Well, one, I mentioned I got five kids, and stuff that’s out there – fentanyl and everything – is just so scary. And we’ve seen how devastating it can be on lives of many folks – folks that we’ve seen in the sports and entertainment world, folks that we seen just in everyday life. It happened to one of my former teammates, including the family member, etc., etc.

So opioid overdoses and overdoses in general have touched a lot of people’s lives, including mine. And so for me, this was a natural fit to talk about the Ready Rescue campaign.

» RELATED: A new project explores the fentanyl crisis in North Texas

I know that there’s been some pushback on Narcan and seems to be a stigma around the use itself that is affecting distribution. Is that your sense of it?

Yeah, there’s definitely a stigma, and I don’t know why it’s a stigma because we’re losing lives. And if you’re losing lives, we need to address it in the best way possible.

And one of the ways we can do that is just by spreading more awareness and giving people information and giving them a place to where they can go and purchase themselves and have it in the medicine kits, first aid kits, they have it in their purse and carry it with them because one thing about opioid overdoses and fentanyl and so forth… Fentanyl can hit anybody at any point in time. It doesn’t take a whole lot, but people are in pain these days. We talk about mental awareness, mental health, and as well as physical health. And so it’s a lot.

There’s a lot of self-medication going on.

There’s a lot of self-medication going on. And so to be on the preventative side is to be prepared just in case something happens.

» RELATED: How does fentanyl get to Texas? Court cases tell us more about the path the drug takes

What else do you want folks to know about what you’re working on these days?

I’m just trying to stay upright and continue to move my businesses forward and my real estate businesses. And I’m just trying to be as productive as I possibly can and support my family just like any other person is.

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