Monday, July 23, 2012
Lunch with Curtis Martin, Hall of Famer
By Rich Cimini
In advance of his Aug. 4 induction to the Hall of Fame, Curtis Martin met a group of New York writers Monday over lunch at a midtown restaurant. Some leftovers from that wide-ranging interview:
• Martin, who retired after sitting out the 2006 season with a severe knee injury, is a successful businessman. He’s also interested in investing in a professional soccer team, either in the MLS or the English Premier League. He said he twice came close to buying into an NFL franchise.
• For someone who absorbed countless hits during his career, Martin, 39, considers himself lucky to be in relatively good physical shape. He suspects he will eventually need surgery on both knees and both shoulders, but he wasn’t complaining.
Martin said he’s not overly concerned about his long-term health, but he admitted he suffered “a lot” of concussions during his career. He recalled being knocked out a few times, once after a blow to the head by Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski in the 1998 AFC Championship Game, but he usually went back to the huddle.
“I became an expert at covering it up,” he said, noting that his teammates knew to help him up if he didn’t immediately bounce to his feet after a tackle.
• Martin recognizes the severity of the concussion issue in the NFL. He said it’s a “legitimate worry” for the long-term future of the NFL, but he’s confident that management and the players will do the right thing.
“I do think there’s reason to be concerned about it, but the game has been around for 80-something years and they’ve always found a way to deal with these situations,” he said. “When they wore leather helmets, they found a way to make the game better and safer.”
• Martin, the father of an infant daughter, said if he had a son, he might not let him play football.
“It’s a hard way to make a living,” said the former running back who never imagined himself as a football player.
• He said he expects about 250 friends and family members to be in Canton for his induction. Former coaches Bill Parcells, Al Groh, Eric Mangini and perhaps Herm Edwards will be in attendance, along with several former Jets and Patriots teammates. Martin said he's still fine-tuning his speech. He said there are a couple of parts where he thinks he might get emotional.