Emmitt Smith spent 13 seasons (1990-2002) with the Dallas Cowboys. He set the all-time rushing record (18,355), won three Super Bowls, and was named NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP in 1993.

If there’s anyone qualified to speak on the success or lack thereof when it comes to the Cowboys it’s Smith. Last week, he made an appearance on ESPN’s San Antonio Sports Star, and the Hall of Famer expressed his displeasure with how the Cowboys are not taking advantage of their opportunities to compete for championships.

“When I look at our Cowboys I’m looking for… who are we going to be?” Smith said. “Are we going to stay the same? Or are we going to just take all of this talent and waste it over three or four or five year timeframe, assuming and expecting to do something great doing the same things over and over and over again.

“It’s frustrating as hell. You see great talent being wasted! You see time passing!”

Smith has plenty of ammunition to back up his statement. The Cowboys posted win totals of 12, 13, 10, and 12 since the 2013 season. However, it’s only produced two playoff wins and it’s continued a not-so-flattering streak. Dallas has failed to reach the NFC Championship in its last 11 playoff appearances which is the longest stretch for any team in league history when it comes to missing the conference title game.

Dallas is loaded with star players on offense like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb to name a few. That brings a lot of attention to the franchise and creates plenty of headlines, but it doesn’t guarantee success on the field as a team. The Cowboys’ offense was No. 1 in the NFL in 2021 in terms of points per game and yards but struggled mightily in their playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Smith was asked what advice he’d give to the Cowboys’ offensive players going forward after laying an egg in the postseason, and his message was a profound one.

“You’re not a star yet, you’re not a GOAT yet, and you’re not great yet. You have to win championships to become all of that,” Smith said. “Yes, you’re on the most visible football team in the world, and playing for a great organization. But your greatness is when you finish and you finish well. In order to become a legend or legendary, you have to eliminate all of these things we’re talking about, period. Outside of that, you’re gonna be living in the shadows of what came before you.”

The Cowboys’ history casts as big of a shadow as any team in the NFL with eight Super Bowl appearances and five Lombardi trophies won. The current Cowboys’ roster is talented on both sides of the ball, but as Emmitt Smith mentioned, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t seize the moment, and that’s the next step Dallas has to take.

Feature image via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports