Touchdown! Disco Ball Goes to Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith, with Cheryl Burke, has a disco-ball trophy to go with his Super Bowl rings. At left, runners-up Mario Lopez and Katrina Smirnoff.
Emmitt Smith, with Cheryl Burke, has a disco-ball trophy to go with his Super Bowl rings. At left, runners-up Mario Lopez and Katrina Smirnoff. (Photos By Adam Larkey -- Abc Via Associated Press)

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By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, November 16, 2006

Three-time Super Bowl champ Emmitt Smith took home the Cheesetastic Disco Ball Trophy last night to become the most successful football player ever to compete on ABC's hit "Dancing With the Stars."

Last season's token athlete, former San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice, made it all the way to the final two, but in the end sanity prevailed and viewers voted to award the trophy to Jessica Simpson's former brother-in-law, Drew Lachey of boy band 98 Degrees.

This time around, however, the sports hero won after 10 grueling weeks of competition, though he was not the better dancer of the final two. Mario Lopez was -- though not by as much as you'd think.

Emmitt was, however, the only actual amateur dancer left in the competition, and I don't care how many times that Samantha co-host chick says otherwise.

"You do some moves that are even difficult for some professionals and you're so good, sometimes it's easy to forget you're actually an actor and you're not a professional dancer -- did you ever think you would get to this level?" she gushed last night at Lopez, the hunky Animal Planet show host, former "Saved by the Bell" actor and -- we cannot emphasize this enough -- "Kids Incorporated" hoofer.

"No way!" Lopez said on cue. "Just like you said, Samantha, I'm just an actor and a host."

Lopez and partner Karina Smirnoff re-performed the freestyle dance to "It Takes Two" that brought down the house the night before and led judges to tie up their votes for each contestant. Smith and partner Cheryl Burke redid one of their better dances, but it wasn't in the same league.

But, what did that matter, the votes were already in.

"It's awesome!" Smith shouted when his win was announced in the final minutes of the heavily padded hour. Surprisingly, he did not shout out that he was going to Disneyland -- ABC is owned by Disney.

He did, however, heap praise on Burke, who is a two-time winner, having been Lachey's partner for the show's second edition. Think male celebs negotiating to participate in the fourth edition of the series are all demanding Burke for their partner?

Smith also had nice things to say about Lopez, calling him a "true gentleman," while Lopez graciously said, "This whole journey was unbelievable" and dance partner "Karina the most unbelievable person."

But before that moment, we got to see repeat appearances by all nine contestants who'd been booted from this edition of "Dancing." Has there ever been a stiffer dancer onstage than Tucker Carlson?


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