Saturday, February 4, 2012
Consistency lands Curtis Martin in HOF
By James Walker
INDIANAPOLIS -- Consistency and longevity matter in the NFL. That was the path former New England Patriots and New York Jets tailback Curtis Martin had to take to make it to Canton.
Martin was never the flashiest running back. He was never the quickest or fastest. But Martin was one of the most consistent and effective. Those are the traits that led Martin to the 2012 Hall of Fame class that also includes Willie Roaf, Cortez Kennedy, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman and Jack Butler.
Curtis Martin rushed for 14,101 yards and topped 1,000 yards in 10 of 11 seasons in the league.
A former third-round draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, Martin drastically overachieved and finished fourth all time in rushing with 14,101 yards. The only three players ahead of Martin -- Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders -- are all in the Hall of Fame.
Martin also had 10 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. The only year he didn't rush for more than 1,000 yards was in 2005, which was his final season in the NFL.
There were plenty of years when Martin was counted out, but he consistently churned out yards and proved doubters wrong. He led the league in rushing with 1,697 yards in 2004 as a 31-year old.
"I'm very competitive," Martin said in a conference call Saturday. "I'm relentless when I'm sure about something and when I'm focused on something. ... I think it was more of a result of me being focused on putting my best performance out there on the field. That's what they pay us to do. To be in tip-top shape and do our best at our job."
Running back is arguably the most demanding position in the NFL. Yet Martin's durability was off the charts. He never missed more than four games in a season and played in all 16 games eight out of his 11 years.
Martin spent his first three years with the Patriots and his final eight years with the Jets. It’s rare that a player is great over the course of his career. But Martin was one of those players.
"Curtis Martin's work ethic, durability and ability to consistently play at such a high level are the hallmarks of his career and appropriately recognized by his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "I have never come across a player who has been more dedicated to the team and doing his job. Curtis’ tremendous production on the field, regardless of how outstanding it was, pales in comparison to the man he is. An individual of unparalleled integrity, he treats everyone who crosses his path with honesty, kindness and respect and serves as a shining example of how professional athletes should carry themselves on and off the field."
Martin said he would like former coach Bill Parcells to induct him this summer. Parcells, who also was a Hall of Fame finalist but didn't make the cut, drafted Martin in 1995 and coached him in New England and New York. Martin said he hasn't discussed the induction process yet with Parcells.
The AFC East got one of its two Hall of Fame finalists in. But former Buffalo Bills receiver Andre Reed did not make the cut on his sixth attempt. Reed was still on the ballot Sunday when it was reduced to 10 players, but didn't get one of the final slots.