Smith apologizes for forgetting UF in Hall speech

Published: Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 10:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 10:22 p.m.

Those University of Florida fans who were put off Saturday night when Emmitt Smith did not mention his alma mater during his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech at Canton, Ohio, can rest easy. He didn't mean to overlook his days as a Gator, Smith said Sunday.

The first apology came on Smith's Twitter page Sunday.

"Thx to all for da good wishes about the hall of fame ... need to say a special hello to my GATOR Nation," Smith tweeted. "I sincerely sincerely apologize for not mentioning u last night in myhof speech. Gator Nation I jus got caught up in everything plz charge it to my mind not my heart!! Once a GATOR always a GATOR I loved everything the U of florida gave me."

Smith again apologized during Sunday night's NBC telecast of the Hall of Fame game between the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals. Smith said he spoke for 24 minutes, four minutes past the allotted time, without a script Saturday night.

"I forgot one most important ingredient, my Gator Nation," Smith told veteran broadcaster Al Michaels. "I sincerely apologize for not recognizing the University of Florida, Urban Meyer and (UF athletic director) Jeremy Foley and all the Gator Nation, because the Gator Nation truly helped me get on a platform at the collegiate level which led to where I am at right now here in Canton."

Michaels then said, "Apology accepted in Gainesville" while Smith performed the Gator chomp.

Meyer was among a contingent of Gator boosters and officials who attended the ceremony Saturday. Meyer invited Smith to stand on the sidelines during the 2006 and 2008 BCS Championship games.

“It's a great day for the Gator Nation,” Meyer said. “I am extremely happy for Emmitt and his family and it was an honor to be on hand watching Emmitt's induction.”

Smith, who starred at UF from 1987-89, is one of two Gators enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining defensive end Jack Youngblood, who made it in 2001. Smith's induction comes four years after he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, Gator Football Ring of Honor and the UF Athletic Hall of Fame.

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