Emmitt Smith on Hope Solo, World Peace on 'DWTS'

Mon, Sep 19

Five years ago, NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith won the third season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" with professional dancer Cheryl Burke.

On Monday, the hit show returns for its 13th season, and it's an eclectic group this fall. Most of the buzz has been around transgender contestant Chaz Bono, TV broadcaster Nancy Grace and a number of reality stars (Rob Kardashian, Kristin Cavallari and Carson Kressley). Of course, there are two athletes: Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) and U.S. Women's World Cup goalie Hope Solo.

We brought in Smith to give us his thoughts on the contestants, especially the athletes.

Emmitt, what would your best advice be?

"Clear your schedule. It's going to take a lot of work if you want to be very good on this show. Don't think you're going to learn the dances in a matter of four hours. If you're going all in, go all in and make it happen. This is not a walk in the park."

What's the best way to handle being under the microscope?

"They are accustomed to this already. Remember Hope's last soccer game? Everybody was watching. They are used to the public and media eye and the scrutiny that comes with it. Ron has been there also. You're right that this is a different light. This is more about entertainment and a different type of scrutiny. As an athlete, we've been pushed so much. We are very accustomed to having someone give us constructive criticism."

How did you make it look so easy, learning from Burke?

"I recognized what I was doing, and I respected her for who she was. I was in an arena I was not familiar with. Why would I go into uncharted waters with the thought or notion that I knew how to do it already? You can't learn like that. I was very humble. I knew I was going to work hard. That's what we do as athletes. You teach me. I will learn. And I will get better. You can push me, but don't mistreat me. There is a difference."

How do athletes deal with their teammates joking about all the dancing?

"Before the show, I knew I was going to get some ribbing for doing it. Thankfully, my teammates reserved the right to criticize until they saw the show. When they saw me on TV, they weren't joking at all. They couldn't say anything. Then I made the finals. What else could they say? If I was knocked out in the first round, I think the ribbing will still be going on today."

What was more fun: "Dancing with the Stars" or your time with the Arizona Cardinals?

"That would be 'Dancing.' I was getting hit a lot with the Cardinals."