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Friday, February 4, 2011
Answering the knocks on Curtis Martin

By Tim Graham

When considering Curtis Martin's case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame this week, we've concentrated on the question of him getting in on the first ballot.

ESPNNewYork.com reporter Rich Cimini and his former New York Daily News teammate Gary Myers both tackled the subject, but the main advocate they quoted was Bill Parcells, probably the most biased Martin observer aside from Rochella Martin, his mother.

Parcells was Martin's beloved coach with the New England Patriots and New York Jets. He told both Cimini and Myers that Martin should go to Canton "on roller skates."

But you will find some detractors out there -- not regarding Martin's chances as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but whether he deserves to get in at all.

In an ESPN Insider column, analyst KC Joyner addressed what he perceives to be the two biggest knocks on Martin: He didn't shine in big games and wasn't a breakaway threat.

Joyner discovered that stats pertaining to these issues actually support Martin's candidacy further.

Joyner defined big games as divisional games and those versus teams with winning records (at the end of the season, not at the time they played). While Martin's play didn't spike against AFC East opponents, he was remarkably consistent. He averaged 4.1 yards against the AFC East and 4.0 yards against all others.

Against winning teams, Joyner noted Martin averaged 98 yards from scrimmage compared to 111 yards against losing teams. Joyner called it a "nominal variance" when breaking it down to a difference of 3 yards per quarter.

As for breakaway abilities, Martin ranked among the top 10 on carries of 20 yards or more six times in his 11 seasons. He ranked in the top six four times. Martin also had at least one 40-yard run in nine seasons.