The Story of Curtis Martin: His life and journey to Canton, Ohio
Added by Justin O'Connell on July 24, 2012.
Curtis Martin is one of only two NFL running backs to record 10 straight 1,000+ yard seasons.
Although the New York Giants might have more Super Bowl championships than their neighbors, the New York Jets, the Jets will have a running back in the Hall Of Fame before the G-men.
Curtis Martin, who leads the Jets all-time in rushing yards and touchdowns, has been elected into the 2012 Hall of Fame class. He was chosen over former running backs Terrell Davis and Jerome Bettis. Martin feels that even though he was statistically the fourth best running back, “there were several running backs that are much more talented and gifted than I am.”
Martin has the fourth most rushing yards in league history and is third in carries; he also holds one of the lowest fumble rates. He is top ten in almost every rushing category and is tied with only Barry Sanders for 10 straight 1000+ yards seasons, a feat that may never be broken. Martin recognized this feat as his “greatest accomplishment” in the NFL:
“I realize how hard it is to do. I understand what I had to go through to go ten straight years of 1000 plus yards. I mean it was a lot of things; it was a lot of preservation and determination. It defiantly wasn’t that I was so talented because I wasn’t.”
Before reaching the NFL Martin had many struggles and had to work harder than most to achieve what he has. His father, Curtis Sr, left him and his mother, Rochella Dixon, when he was young and his mother was forced to work two jobs to support him. Martin was always on the move and grew up around a lot of violence and negativity.
Curtis did not play football till his senior year in high school, where he was an absolute stud, racking in 1,705 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. When asked how playing that one year of high school football changed his life he responded, “There’s a part of me that questions whether or not I’d be living.”
He was then offered a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, where he decided to go in order to stay close to home. Martin had an injury riddled college career where his best season was his junior year where he complied 1,045 rushing yards, but did not finish the season. His senior year he had 251 rushing yards in the first game, against powerhouse Texas, but was hurt the following game and missed the rest of the season.
He decided to enter the draft because he felt it was the right decision for him personally. Turns out he was right. Martin confessed to not giving his full effort in college and even talked about how he felt “he cheated Pitt and his teammates,” but when he reached the NFL he “became more focused”.
Martin was drafted in the third round by the New England Patriots. He became the only player in Patriots’ history to have a 100+ rushing yards game debut. He finished the season as the AFL leading rusher, with 1487 yards and 14 touchdowns, and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
In 1997 Martin was a restricted free agent and signed with the Jets to a 6yr, $36 million deal. Martin decided to sign with the Jets because they hired his former coach, Bill Parcells, who he truly respected.
“The only reason I changed to New York was because of Bill Parcells,” said Martin on his former head coach.
Martin and Parcells always shared a connection with each other and Parcells was able to help, the than young, Martin in various ways.
“Bill Parcells not only had a big impact on my career, but he had a big impact on m life. My career wouldn’t have been half of what it was if it wasn’t for Bill Parcells. He not only taught me about being a running back, he taught me about being a professional and a man. He was the first man I looked up to. He was a huge part of my life.”
The rest they say is history. Martin went on to set most of the Jets rushing records, help lead them to multiple playoff wins, and missed only one game in his first five seasons with the team. Martin retired after the 2006 season and was eligible for the 2011 class, but did not make the cut. He was chosen for this year’s upcoming class and will be inducted on August 4th along with, Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, and Willie Roaf.
Martin was always extremely competitive and he had to in order to achieve all he has. Although he never had an extreme passion for football, he had a burning passion to be a righteous human being.
“I never played football because I loved it so much, I played football because it was a vehicle that helped me to do what I really loved, which was reaching people and impacting people’s lives in a positive way,” said Martin on his motivation during his career.
Martin has no plans on returning to the NFL in anyway, especially coaching, where he said, “No I don’t like football enough to coach and coaching is even more demanding than playing and playing was enough for me.”