Curtis Martin was the embodiment of consistency in the NFL as a running back. Consistently effective. Consistently durable. Consistently humble. Consistently consistent. He wasn’t a top prospect coming out of Pittsburgh. He was overlooked as one of the games’ elites, instead he quietly chipped away at the record books climbing rung after rung on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.
After the call from the Hall of Fame committee, receiving confirmation that he would be enshrined as a member of the 2012 induction class in Canton, it gives the official stamp of approval on a career that never needed any validity.
Unlike his NFL comtemporaries, Martin did not dream of being a star canonized by the bright lights of show business. Recognizing the platform the NFL offers, Martin fulfilled his dream of being a role model to many. One might even be as bold to state that Martin was “Tebowing” long before anyone had heard Tim Tebow’s name.
“Moreso than the NFL, being a football player or a running back, in my mind, my career was being a role model,” Martin said via conference call Saturday evening. “I took that to heart. Everything that I did from the time I entered the NFL until the day I retired, even until today, it was all in recognition that I have been gifted and blessed to be in this position and in this situation. More important to me than anything during my career, it was the type of man that I was and the example that I was, not only to my teammates, to the general public, but even more importantly, to kids because they really look up to us.”
Upon learning about his selection, Martin remained humble offering thanks to many but took the time to speak about two influential people in his life: his mother and his former coach, Bill Parcells. Parcells was a top 10 finalist in his first year on the ballot, but missed out on being a finalist. Martin has been on the record stating that he’d want no one else but Parcells to introduce him on induction day. He even went as far as to say that he would’ve “willingly, in a heartbeat, forsake” the Hall of Fame if meant that Parcells would get in; later calling him a “father figure”.
“Parcells has meant everything to my career. There’s God and then there’s Parcells, as far as the meaning they’ve had on my career. I can’t say enough words about the man. I’m so grateful that he’s passed through my life and is still in my life,” Martin said.
His mother, Rochella Dixon, raised her children as a single mother often working two jobs to make ends meet. Martin credits his mother for pushing him towards organized sports in an effort to keep him off the rough and tumble streets of Pittsburgh.
“I think there’s a Bible verse that talks about your parents’ pride. I’m definitely my mother’s pride. I’ve been very vocal about saying this – she’s my hero. My mother has done so much and sacrificed so much to see that I just grew up properly. I’m so grateful to her. There’s nothing that I could really do to repay her except try my best to succeed in life and be the best man that I can,” he said.
Deflecting the spotlight and using his platform to praise those who helped him to get where he is. That’s just Curtis being Curtis. Even if the spotlight is deserved as his career numbers dictate. He is one of two players to have 1,000 yards in his first 10 seasons in the NFL (Barry Sanders is the other). His 3,518 rushing attempts will, in all likelihood, remain third all-time, as no running back below the age of 27 is 1,500 attempts (the Rams’ Steven Jackson is the youngest/closest at 27 years old/1,878 attempts). Put it this way, it would take Jackson an average of 328 attempts (his career average is 268, high 345) over the next five years just to reach Martin’s attempt numbers.
Martin joins OT Willie Roaf, DT Cortez Kennedy, DE/LB Chris Doleman, C Dermontti Dawson, CB Jack Butler as the 2012 Hall of Fame class. Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown and Cris Carter join Parcells as notable names left off the list of 2012 finalists.
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