The Jets made running back Curtis Martin available via conference call today, four days before he will be considered for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This is Martin’s first year on the ballot, and he is one of 15 finalists that the HoF selection committee will consider for induction into the Hall this year. An induction class can be no more than six men, and Martin faces stiff competition, with former Colts and Rams running back Marshall Faulk and former Rams and Steelers running back Jerome Bettis also on the ballot for the first time this year.
Known as selfless and highly regarded by teammates, media and fans, Martin calls his consideration for football’s highest honor the result of a “collective effort.” He doesn’t care much for individual accolades, but he’s excited about the prospect of being called a Hall of Famer.
“I didn’t know that I would care about it as much as this,” he said. “I’m excited about it. For me, just to be mentioned in the final 15…there’s only so many guys [who get that far in the process]. It speaks to commitment beyond the average.”
Martin, a third-round draft pick of the Patriots in 1995, spent three years with New England and was a Pro Bowler in two of those seasons. With the Pats, he had 958 carries for 3,799 yards, 32 rushing touchdowns and 5 receiving touchdowns. A restricted free agent after the 1997 season, he signed an offer sheet with the Jets, where Bill Parcells, the man that drafted him, had taken over after leaving the Pats after Super Bowl XXXI.
Martin said he never wanted to leave New England, and was open to going to the Jets only because Parcells was there. New England owner Robert Kraft called Martin this morning to wish him well and reflect on their time together.
“He called to congratulate me on my career. I used to go to his house on the Jewish holidays – his wife (Myra) made some chicken soup that I liked,” Martin said. “He talked about how much he appreciated me as a player and a person. I think the Patriots’ organization was very, very…in my mind, the best foundation I could have had as an NFL player.”
Martin finished his 11-year career with 14,101 yards (4.0 yards per carry), 90 rushing touchdowns and 10 receiving touchdowns.
He said that if/when he’s elected to the Hall, he will ask Parcells to do the honors of handling his introduction.