Curtis Martin Press Conference

On if he has spoken with Bill Parcells…

Yes, he called to congratulate me.  One of the things he said (was), “I read the statement that you said in the newspaper and I want you to know that I would reverse that to you.”  The statement that he was referring to, I can’t remember exactly what paper it was, I was being interviewed and I said, Bill Parcells has meant so much to me and this is almost like a serendipitous time to be nominated right now.  If I could, I would willingly, in a heartbeat, forsake my chance of getting inducted this year if it would guarantee that Bill Parcells would get inducted.  He called me to say that he read that and feels the same way towards me.

On if he told Parcells that he would like him to be his presenter at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony…

No, we didn’t speak about that yet.  I told him that I would call him after the show was over, but there’s no one more befitting to introduce me or present me at the Hall of Fame.  Parcells has meant everything to my career.  There’s God and then there’s Parcells, as far as the meaning they’ve had on my career.  I’m very grateful that Parcells is just the person who walked me through this entire process.  I feel even the years he wasn’t my coach, what he left (that) somewhat embedded in my character was different ways of how to be a man and how to be a professional.  I know there were many players that didn’t take to his style, but for me, he was almost like a father figure.  It didn’t seem as though there was a lot of love between us during our careers, but as soon as it was over, he and I became even closer.  I can’t say enough words about the man.  I’m so grateful that he’s passed through my life and is still in my life.

On his relationship with his mother and her reaction to him being selected…

During my career, my mother would come to the games and never sit in the chair and watch the games.  She would walk through the stadium and watch it on the little TVs by the concession stands because she was always afraid of something happening to me.  Then, she would meet me after the game in the tunnel.

It’s funny, even now, six years removed, that hasn’t changed.  She went in the kitchen and my assistant, Alexandra, took her shoes because my mother was about to walk out in the hall because she was too nervous to watch the Hall of Fame.

On what his mother’s reaction was when he found out he was selected to the Hall of Fame…

She was just elated.  I think there’s a Bible verse that talks about your parents’ pride.  I’m definitely my mother’s pride.  I’ve been very vocal about saying this – she’s my hero.  My mother has done so much and sacrificed so much to see that I just grew up properly.  I’m so grateful to her.  There’s nothing that I could really do to repay her except try my best to succeed in life and be the best man that I can.

On how much he thinks winning the NFL rushing title at age 31 helped seal his selection…

I think that may have been one of the factors that weighed in.  That’s something that I’m proud of as far as an individual accomplishment, because especially coming off the year that I had previously, I heard a lot of talk about me being washed up and old, whether or not there were so many miles on the tires and all of that.  To be able to come out and feel the way I felt and have the year that I had that year, that was tremendous to me.  To actually win a rushing title, if I could say that I had one individual goal as an athlete, as a running back, it was to win the rushing title.  That meant a lot to me because I felt as though I could do that the following year.  Unfortunately, I had that career-ending injury, but I would say the best I ever felt in my career was during the latter part of it.

On if the talk about him being washed up motivated him…

I’m not the type of guy that talks a lot of stuff, but I’m very competitive.  I’m relentless when I’m sure about something or when I’m focused on something.  All the talk, it’s hard to even say that it motivated me because I don’t think it factored in so much.  I think it was more a result of me being focused on putting my best performance out there on the field.  I mean, that’s what they pay us to do, to be in tip-top shape and do our best at our job.  It just really felt good to come out and be able to do something like that when I was, I think, 31 years old.

On how disappointed Parcells was not to be selected when he talked to him…

He called me before the show, before it was announced.  We both just wished each other the best.  I think I was probably more disappointed because for me, he meant so much to me.  If I did dream about anything, it would have been going into the Hall of Fame with the guy that I feel was responsible for my career being what it had been. That’s the only somewhat bittersweet moment for me, is that I was really looking forward to either Bill going in or us going in together.  That would have been like icing on the cake for me.

On how much it means to him to be a great example off the field to young players and fans…

I think many people become professional athletes and football players to be just that, football players.  I became a football player to be a role model.  Moreso than the NFL, being a football player or a running back, in my mind, my career was being a role model.  I took that to heart.  Everything that I did from the time I entered the NFL until the day I retired, even until today, it was all in recognition that I have been gifted and blessed to be in this position and in this situation.  More important to me than anything during my career, it was the type of man that I was and the example that I was, not only to my teammates, to the general public, but even more importantly, to kids because they really look up to us.  Again, just to reiterate, when I view my career, my career was being a role model, not necessarily a football player.  Playing football was just the vehicle that enabled me to be able to do what make my heart sing, which is to impact people’s lives in a positive way.

Closing remarks…

I would just like to say thank you to all the reporters who have covered me over the years (and) to all the coaches who have coached me.  I’d like to say a big thanks to the owners, Robert Kraft, Mr. (Leon) Hess, and Mr. Woody Johnson.  I really appreciate the opportunity to represent you and your team.  I definitely would like to thank all of the teammates that have been a part of my career and that I played with because I know that there is no way I’m in this situation without them.  Lastly, I’d also like to thank all of the fans.  At the end of the day, I feel like the fans, moreso than the money, the fame, the power, the accolades and everything, the fans are a big part of the reason why I played the game.  Like I said in my retirement speech, I really hope that I’ve been as good to them as they’ve been to me.

 


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