Today one of the greatest running backs and one of the greatest New York Jets will enter the hallowed Hall Of Fame in Canton Ohio. Curtis Martin, the NFL's 4th leading rusher with 14,101 yards. He scored 100 touchdowns in his career, 90 rushing and 10 receiving. He was by all accounts one of the greatest team mates and leaders to ever grace this fantastic franchise.
He will become the 6th New York Jet player to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame behind legends Joe Namath, Don Maynard, John Riggins, Art Monk and Ronnie Lott. He will also have his number #28 jersey retired and rightfully so.
I have always found Curtis Martin to be a very interesting person. For someone with his accomplishments you would think that he lived for the game of football, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Even though he remains one of only two backs in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 seasons, it was the work that he could accomplish off the football field that truly motivated this man.
In 2004 Curtis became the oldest player to win the rushing title at age 31 with 1697 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. In 2005 Martin's season was cut short by a knee injury and he was advised that he would need to retire or face not being able to walk without the aid of a cane by the time he was 38. At the time of retirement, Martin believed if health allowed it, he still has three solid years of football ahead of him. I don't doubt that at all.
I will remember Martin very fondly, I will remember him for his work in the 12-4 1998 season, his first as a Jet. I will remember his shrugging off tackles in Pittsburgh. I will remember him for his 2004 season, I'll also remember him for his work for charity and his work at Jet rallies ahead of our AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010.
Most are not aware that Curtis donated at least 12% of every one of his pay cheques to charity. He works to send qualified doctors to third world countries and works closely with the city to try and eradicate homelessness. However outside of his Philanthropist work he is also a business man. He works as a life coach and stated that along with buying an insurance company he would also become an NFL owner within the next five years.
For a man who grew up in a very tough neighbourhood in Pittsburgh, a man who found his grandmother stabbed to death in a robbery and saw friends and family die in horrific gangland violence. Who's ambition was to make it to his 21st birthday, he certainly has carved quite the life for himself, and touched the hearts of many on his way.
All of this combined to make Curtis Martin what he was, a great player a great team mate and a great person. Take your moment Curtis, I can't think of a more deserving player:
"Martin said: "When I think of the Hall, what’s most satisfying is this really wasn’t something that I wanted. But I’m proud of that fact. I made the most of that situation. I maximized my opportunity."