© St. Petersburg Times, published December 30, 2002
In possibly his last game with Dallas, Emmitt Smith, the league's all-time leading rusher, gained a season-low 13 yards on 18 carries in a 20-14 loss to Washington.
He finished with 975 yards, failing to reach 1,000 for the first time since his rookie year. He said it was a "huge distraction" last week.
"I do want to play next year. I don't care if it's in a Dallas Cowboys uniform or anywhere else," he said. "I still want to play the game of football because I still feel like I can. ... I'm not the problem. We have a lot more problems than just a 33-year-old running back."
The Redskins bid a farewell of their own as cornerback Darrell Green, who is retiring after 20 seasons with Washington, tearfully said goodbye to 84,142 fans with more playing time than he has seen all season.
Cowboys coach Dave Campo talked about the game as if it were any other, even as owner Jerry Jones said a decision was coming "immediately" about the coach's future.
"Obviously their coach is probably going to be canned (today)," Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said. "He knows it, and so it's hard to get his team really riled up to play."
The group promoting the hiring of black coaches by NFL teams said Jones violated the spirit of a new league policy by speaking to former Minnesota coach Dennis Green on the phone and not in person. All 32 teams agreed this month to interview minority candidates when they have openings for a coach or key spots in the front office.
Also, Cowboys defensive tackle La'Roi Glover sprained his right knee, safety Lynn Scott bruised his left hip, linebacker Markus Steele hyperextended his back and safety Tony Dixon separated his left shoulder.
Browns quarterback Tim Couch broke his right leg against Atlanta and will miss the playoffs.
Couch, whose season included an emotional breakdown and some unforgettable comebacks, was injured on the first play of the second quarter in Cleveland's 24-16 win. Kelly Holcomb replaced him and is the new Browns starter.
"It's frustrating," Couch said. "This is what I've worked for my whole life and to get hurt is frustrating, but there's nothing I can do about it."
BENGALS: Quarterback Jon Kitna was six snaps short of earning a $1.625-million contract bonus. Kitna needed to take part in 61 snaps against Buffalo to appear in 80 percent of Cincinnati's offensive plays this season.
CHARGERS: Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, bothered by an ankle injury most of the season, was inactive, as was receiver Curtis Conway (shoulder).
COLTS: Edgerrin James finished 11 short of his third 1,000-yard season and a $1.5-million bonus.
JAGUARS: ESPN.com reported that coach Tom Coughlin would be fired and that Green, LSU coach Nick Saban and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops were possible replacements. Owner Wayne Weaver denied he had made any decision. Coughlin said he expected to talk with Weaver today. ... Quarterback Mark Brunell missed the game against Indianapolis with a strained right hamstring and was replaced by rookie David Garrard, who was 13-of-26 for 135 yards passing and gained 44 yards on 11 carries.
PACKERS: Receiver Donald Driver bruised his left shoulder and running back Tony Fisher jammed his neck.
REDSKINS: Bruce Smith recorded his 195th sack, leaving him three behind Reggie White's record. Also, Tight end Zeron Flemister signed a three-year extension, keeping him from becoming a restricted free agent. Financial terms were not disclosed.
SAINTS: Cornerback Dale Carter broke his forearm and long snapper Kevin Houser sprained his shoulder against the Panthers.
SEAHAWKS: Linebacker Orlando Huff dislocated his left elbow in the fourth quarter.
STEELERS: Linebacker Kendrell Bell was pulled in the third quarter for precautionary reasons with a left ankle injury. Running back Jerome Bettis (knee) was held out.
TITANS: Defensive end Jevon Kearse aggravated a left foot injury that caused him to miss all but two plays of the first 13 games this season. Coach Jeff Fisher said X-rays showed no damage and Kearse was fine.
OBITUARY: Joel Buchsbaum, the college draft expert for Pro Football Weekly, has died at 48, the magazine said. No other details were available.