Thanks to salary cap issues and Emmitt's advancing age (he'll be 34 in may), Smith was released by the Dallas Cowboys on February 27, 2003. Smith's salary would have counted for $9.8 million against the Cowboy's cap (even after his release, he will still count for $4.7 million against the team's cap this year).

The press conference was begun by Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who made the announcement. Smith then followed up with his comments and fielded questions from the sports media. In response to the obvious question of retirement, Smith stated that he would not retire and that "I still have a love and passion for the game. I think I'm a 1,300-yard back, and I will be out to prove that."

Later reaction from the sports writers was varied. Most felt that the Cowboys had done what was best for the organization, however. One writer, John McGrath, commented on the age factor by noting that Smith has missed only four games since 1990.