Curtis Martin earns Hall of Fame nod
Former Jets running back Curtis Martin is headed to Canton.
The eight-year Jets back was selected as one of six players to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He also played three years for the Patriots.
“At the end of the day, I feel like the fans, moreso than the money, the fame, the power, the accolades and everything, the fans are a big part of the reason why I played the game,” Martin said after the announcement. “Like I said in my retirement speech, I really hope that I’ve been as good to them as they’ve been to me.”
In Martin’s 11 seasons he rushed for 14,101 yards and 90 touchdowns. Never a highlight reel player, Martin was instead a steady back who ate up chunks of yardage without making mistakes. He averaged four yards per carry for his career and never had more than two fumbles in a season for the final seven years of his career.
“I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to our own Curtis Martin, who will forever stand as one of the greats of the NFL and one of the best to ever wear a Jets uniform,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said in a statement. “His accomplishments on the field are matched only by his countless acts of kindness and philanthropy off the field during his career, for which he never sought recognition. He exemplifies the very best of the NFL and will now receive the highest admiration, an honor that he very much deserves.”
Martin may not have called attention to himself on the field, but his final career numbers couldn’t be ignored. His 14,101 rushing yards were fourth all-time. He also finished third all-time with 3,518 rushing attempts and 12th all-time in rushing touchdowns (90). He was never known as a good receiver out of the backfield, but finished his career with 3,329 yards and 10 touchdowns receiving.
Martin was a five-time Pro Bowler (1995, ’96, ’98, 2001, ’04) and made the All-Pro team in 2004 — his best single season (1,697 yards rushing). He won the AP Rookie of the Year in 1995 for the Patriots.
The one disappointment for Martin Saturday was that his long-time coach Bill Parcells didn’t earn a Hall of Fame spot this year. Parcells, a two-time Super Bowl winner, was a finalist, but did not get elected. Parcells drafted Martin in 1995, coached him in 1996 as well, and then brought him to the Jets in 1998 where he played under him two years.
“I think I was probably more disappointed because for me, [Parcells] meant so much to me,” Martin said in a conference call after the selection. “If I did dream about anything, it would have been going into the Hall of Fame with the guy that I feel was responsible for my career being what it had been. That’s the only somewhat bittersweet moment for me, is that I was really looking forward to either Bill going in or us going in together.”
Martin said he had not spoken to Parcells about it, but made it clear he would like his former coach to be the presenter for is induction. Parcells had already called Martin to congratulate him on the honor though.
“I’ve seen Curtis Martin inspire numerous players and coaches and I was fortunate to be among those inspired,” Parcells said. “He’s one of the greatest players I have ever coached.”
The other five players elected to the Hall of Fame were Steelers defensive back Jack Butler, Steelers center Dermontti Dawson, Vikings defensive end Chris Doleman, Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and Saints offensive tackle Willie Roaf.
Follow Metro New York sports editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.