Now, with a trophy case filled with National Football League honors and two Super Bowl rings, the Cowboy running back plans to use his company as a way to integrate his unrelated endorsement deals.
"I'm looking forward ... to building new relationships and continuing the ones I have," Mr. Smith said in an interview with Advertising Age after his team racked up its second consecutive Super Bowl victory, beating the Buffalo Bills 30-13.
The goal is to create an integrated marketing strategy that will tie all or some of his endorsement deals together in hopes of doing joint advertising programs, said Werner Scott, president of Advantage Marketing Group, the Irving, Texas-based company overseeing Mr. Smith's marketing ventures.
Currently an endorser for Coca-Cola Co., Reebok International and Starter Corp., Mr. Smith is talking with those companies about expanding his marketing role. On tap: a role in the national launch of Coca-Cola's PowerAde sports drink, a line of signature apparel from Starter and a key position in Reebok's global marketing efforts.
"We will continue to use Emmitt in the manner that we always have, but we also want to popularize him like a Jordan or a Barkley," said Paul Fireman, Reebok chairman, president and ceo.
Although Reebok has yet to firm up its long-term plans with Mr. Smith, Mr. Fireman said the Dallas Cowboy running back will be prominently featured in spring TV spots for Reebok's Pre-Season cross-training shoe, via Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.
Reebok also plans to showcase Mr. Smith in advertising that is part of its new global sponsorship deal with the NFL.
A sign of spots to come was seen during last week's Super Bowl broadcast when Reebok, working with NFL Films, produced a 30-second commercial shot and shown within the game itself. The sole player showcased: Mr. Smith.
It remains to be seen whether Coca-Cola and Reebok will be game for Mr. Smith's integrated marketing strategy. However, Starter has had a history of executing cross-promotions with other marketers.
In the meantime, it is apparent Coca-Cola and Reebok want to give Mr. Smith a greater role in their own marketing plans.
Coca-Cola featured Mr. Smith last year in its "Monsters of the Gridiron" NFL-theme promotion for Coca-Cola Classic and in regional advertising for PowerAde.
Mr. Smith will soon add several more deals to his portfolio, including one with a sports trading card marketer that should be inked within the next 90 days.
Automotive, fast-food and men's toiletries marketers are also believed to have pitched deals, but Mr. Scott would neither confirm nor deny that.
Mr. Smith's performance in Super Bowl XXVIII has already earned him that game's Most Valuable Player award-and an "I'm going to Disneyland" commercial.
But more than being a star athlete, Mr. Smith, 24, has a reputation for being bright and bighearted. He's a Macintosh owner and Prodigy user who gives generously to his church and recently established Emmitt Smith Charities.
"He represents unparalleled excellence and apple pie," Mr. Scott said. "And he has set the stage to become the first non-quarterback, NFL player to be embraced by marketers, ad agencies and American consumers."