FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA—Here's how you stop Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith: Put them in the Hall of Fame and watch them break down and cry.
The men who tore apart NFL defenses couldn't handle the emotions Saturday when they were elected to the shrine along with five others.
"They told me 'Don't cry,' " Rice said, his eyes wet with tears. "It meant the world to me, just like winning a Super Bowl. On draft day, I didn't take that for granted. I didn't take this for granted."
He could have.
A nominee needs 80% approval from the 44 media members who vote, and Rice and Smith were slam dunks in their first year of eligibility. Vote totals aren't announced.
"I am just honored . . . to stand up there with greatness," Rice said.
Smith got teary-eyed up when speaking about his father and how "I was living his dream."
"We are blessed to achieve this level of greatness together," Smith said, referring to Rice.
They will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 7.
Rice and Smith each won three Super Bowls and was the most valuable player in one of those victories. Smith was also the 1993 league MVP.
Rice, the NFL's career receiving and touchdowns leader, and Smith, the top rusher, were joined in the Hall by John Randle, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Floyd Little and Dick LeBeau. Little and LeBeau were elected as senior committee nominees.
Freeney sits again, but Wayne practices
Dwight Freeney watched the Indianapolis Colts' final Super Bowl practice from a golf cart, and it's still uncertain whether he will play in Sunday's Super Bowl.
The All-Pro defensive end hasn't practiced since tearing a ligament in his right ankle late in the AFC title game Jan. 24. Saturday's brief walk-through was no different.
Indianapolis Coach Jim Caldwell said Freeney had improved from Friday to Saturday but declined to say whether the star would play against New Orleans.
Freeney's ankle was not wrapped and he did not receive treatment during the 40-minute walkthrough.
Star receiver Reggie Wayne also seemed to ease concerns about his possible absence Sunday, returning to practice one day after aggravating a season-long right knee injury. Wayne left Friday's practice 20 minutes early, and Caldwell sounded confident that Wayne would play Sunday.