- Associated Press - Saturday, August 7, 2010

CANTON, OHIO (AP) - How ‘bout them Cowboys?

With apologies to such NFL greats as Jerry Rice, John Randle and the rest of the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2010, this sure seems like America’s Team’s weekend.

Not only was Emmitt Smith completing a Hall of Fame triple play Saturday for the “Triplets” by joining Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin in the shrine, but the Cowboys are playing in the preseason’s first game on Sunday.

“It’s an honor to get a Cowboy, a former Cowboy, Emmitt Smith, all-time leading rusher of the NFL, to be going in while we’re out there playing,” said Cowboys linebacker Bradie James. “It’s just a great opportunity, and a great experience. It’s good that we have a Cowboy going in, to have this experience.”

Even if it means a heavier workload.

“Thanks Emmitt for allowing us to come an extra week early to training camp,” James said with a laugh. “But it’s all good. At least he’s getting in the Hall of Fame”

Smith was scheduled to cap the proceedings at Fawcett Stadium. Former Lions cornerback Dick LeBeau got the nod as leadoff hitter, perhaps because his current team _ he’s the renowned defensive coordinator for the Steelers _ bused in from training camp for the festivities. The 73-year-old LeBeau, the oldest coordinator in the league, was thrilled his players would be on hand.

“I love what I do and I love the people that I do it with,” LeBeau said. “In order for me to coach, somebody has to want me to coach, and that’s what I have right now.”

LeBeau was to be followed by ex-Vikings defensive tackle Randle; former Redskins “Hog” Russ Grimm; linebacker Rickey Jackson, the first New Orleans Saints player into the hall; all-time receiving leader Rice; ex-Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little; and Smith, the NFL’s career rushing leader.

“Getting to help recognize him for our fans, I can count that on the neatest things that have happened to me,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whom Smith chose as his presenter. “I can count it on one hand right there with the Super Bowls and with Michael about getting a chance to be a part of that induction.”

Dallas’ players were excited about being involved, too.

“My family’s all from Texas, so they were all Cowboys fans,” cornerback Terence Newman said. “When we watched football, we watched the Cowboys.

“I’m a Deion (Sanders) man myself, but I did wear No. 22 when I was growing up playing running back.”

Team jerseys always are the fashion choice for the crowd at the inductions. Early Saturday, dozens of fans in Cowboys apparel already were on hand and, yes, the No. 22 was omnipresent.

One youngster planning to be in the stadium in support of Grimm was his son, Cody, a rookie safety with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris gave his player the day off from training camp to travel to Canton after telling Russ Grimm, the assistant head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, he would do so.

Story Continues →