Emmitt Smith went back to Florida last weekend when the Cardinals played in Miami, and stories followed him from every angle.
There were reports Smith had already decided to retire — not true, Smith said Thursday — and reports Smith might be a dark-horse candidate to coach his alma mater at the University of Florida — also not true, Smith said.
Then there was his trip Monday to his hometown of Pensacola, staying behind after his teammates flew home. Smith, in a project sponsored by The Open Doors Foundation that he created, brought five truckloads of food and toiletries to hurricane victims in an estimated 1,600 households.
"It was the first time I got a chance to see the damage the hurricanes did to the city," Smith said. "They are over the physical trauma but the emotional trauma of trying to repair damages and dealing with insurance companies, that is (emotions) they have to overcome."
The stuff about the University of Florida and his retirement was simply "a bunch of rumors flying around."
As for a possible retirement, "I will make a decision sometime soon, soon meaning December or whenever it comes," Smith said, chuckling. "I’m not going to base it on nothing more than just me. It ain’t got nothing to do with the team, nothing to do with nothing. It’s all about whether I want to continue to play."
Smith said no one has contacted him about the Florida job, although he wouldn’t rule out eventually coaching somewhere.
"I do some coaching now," Smith said, "so what’s the difference?"
The Cardinals are focusing on a pair of Giants offensively this weekend, neither being a surprise. Tight end Jeremy Shockey, after a slow start, has reemerged as New York’s top receiver. And running back Tiki Barber has turned into an MVP candidate.
Barber was told by coach Tom Coughlin in the offseason to cut down on his fumbling. Now Barber plays more than he ever has and has produced 45.8 percent of the Giants’ offense, the highest percentage in the league. Barber has 820 yards rushing, 31 catches for 411 yards, and nine total touchdowns.
"It just seems like he is outrunning people, making people miss, running through arm tackles," linebacker James Darling said.
"They are just kind of taking advantage of him. When I was in Philadelphia, he was splitting time with Ron Dayne. He’s not splitting time anymore, and he’s getting in there and making his plays count."
Receiver Larry Fitzgerald simply smiled when asked about battling defensive backs for the ball, like he did against Miami to score the gamewinning touchdown over the Dolphins’ Reggie Howard.
"I am 230 (pounds)," Fitzgerald said. "I like when a 185-pound guy is getting in my face."
Fitzgerald also acknowledged his ankle, sprained so badly in the preseason, remains a problem.
"I was talking to Omo (trainer John Omohundro) a couple days ago," Fitzgerald said, "and he’s like, ‘It’s just not going to be healthy until next year.’ " . . .
Linebacker Raynoch Thompson (knee) returned to practice Thursday and should play Sunday. Reserve linebacker Leon Joe, normally inactive on Sundays, hurt his groin and is listed as doubtful. . . .
The Cardinals have distributed 36,491 tickets for Sunday’s game.