- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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I caught up with former Jets great Curtis Martin at Wednesday's Super Bowl '14 event at the New Meadowlands Stadium, and we discussed a number of topics -- everything from the Jets' new-look backfield to his first year of Hall-of-Fame eligibility.
Martin, who last played in 2005 but didn't retire until July, 2007, also talked about his ongoing pursuit of becoming an NFL owner. He first mentioned that dream at his retirement, and he hasn't abandoned it. Truth is, he sounded more confident than ever that it will become a reality.
"Something's going to happen," he said, flashing a knowing smile. "It's been too close a few times, and everything is in place for it to happen. It will happen. It just takes time."
Martin, who turned 37 on May 1, declined to say which team --or teams -- he's looking at. Now let's move on to some football topics.
Q: I know how much you like Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. Do you think the Jets are taking a chance by messing with their league-leading ground game?
CM: I think they had the league-leading ground game because of the line and the game plans. I believe lines make runners. Runners, we do well, but when the lines aren't good, no matter how good you are, you're not going to have those 14-, 15-, 1,600-yard seasons.
Q: Are the current running backs good enough?
CM: I definitely think they have the running backs. What I like about what they have now is the dynamic -- between experience and someone who knows the game (LaDainian Tomlinson) to someone who is very talented. I think (Shonn) Greene is very talented. I think he's one of those guys to look out for. If I was one of those guys in a fantasy league, he'd be someone I get this year. I think he has tremendous upside. I think them getting rid of Thomas Jones ... I don't know all the details, but I think Greene and Thomas Jones are similar backs (in terms of style). I think Greene is a little more agile, a little faster.
Q: Tomlinson looked shot at the end of last year. Do you think he has anything left?
CM: I do. If you have a certain type of passion to compete, which I believe L.T. has, I believe you look for opportunities like this, where everyone is against you. I was hurt (in 2003) and came back and had my best year (league-best 1,697 yards at age 31). Quite frankly, I thought I'd have an even better year the following year because of the way I felt. I felt like a rookie, but then I had the (knee) injury. Barring injury, I think L.T. will be perfect for this situation.
Q: Do you think he will be motivated by the naysayers?
CM: I believe he has that competitive mentality. I'm sure L.T. wasn't proud or ecstatic about his performance last year, and I'm sure he has a chip on his shoulder to bounce back. He'll be running behind one of the best lines.
Q: But they released Alan Faneca. Can it still be the same line?
CM: I still think they could be, if not the best, definitely one of the top three lines in the NFL.
Q: This will be your first year of Hall-of-Fame eligibility. How do you feel about that?
CM: It's something, previously, I thought, 'If it happens, it happens.' But as it gets closer, I find myself really hoping it happens. I think I do have the resume. It'll be exciting for me. It's something I never even dreamed could happen. For it to be right in my grasp, it would be exciting for me.
Q: I have a feeling I know who your presenter would be. Bill Parcells, right?
CM: Without a doubt, Parcells. I hope that he'd come and present for me.
4dField Yates and Rich Cimini