By Joseph Grinwis
This week one of the greats will hang up the cleats and walk out of the NFL forever. It will be a sad day not only in New York, but for the entire NFL, to see a consistent running back and a great kind hearted guy such as Curtis Martin retire.
For 11 seasons Curtis Martin defined consistency. In his first 10 seasons, he ran for at least 1,000 yards, something only the great Barry Sanders had done before him. He carried teams on his back to the playoffs almost every year.
He rarely missed a game beforeÂ a knee injury forced him to sit out the final four games in 2005 and all of 2006.Â He had only missed four games in his career, one while with the Jets.Â When the Jets needed a big play, more times than not, the ball was placed in Curtis Martin’s hands.
There was no greater player for the Jets since he was signed as a restricted free agent from the Patriots before the 1998 season. He retires as the Jets’ all-time leading rusher with 10,302 yards and 4th all-time in rushing yards in NFL history with 14,101.
Curtis Martin was also a wise man. That in large part was the reason why he was so effective. He maximized his ability through equal parts hard work and game preparation.
Also, by being wise, Martin was never arrested and never was getting into trouble like some of todays players. Nope. Martin went along his business on the football field, helped raise money for charity and every chance he got, he gave back to the community.Â His brain, along with his toughness, were the main reasons why his career was such a success.
Oh and boy was he ever tough. In 2002 Martin played on two severely sprained ankles, which he later said were swelled up so much that his ankles rolled over his socks on game day. Still, Martin ran well, rushing for 1,094 yards on 262 carries, helping the Jets to just their 2nd ever AFC East division championship.
Martin also was king at proving the doubters wrong. At the age of 30, most running backs hit the wall and start to decline. Not Martin. No, he was determined to keep churning out the yards and to continue to be a big part of the Jets’ offense.Â So in 2004, at the age 31, Martin ran away with his best season ever, rushing for 1,697 yards and capturing his first and only NFL rushing title, beating out Seattle Seahawk star running back, Shaun Alexander.Â
As Martin prepares to ride off into the sunset, he has many business ventures to pursue, but hopefully will stay close to the team.Â There is one thing for certain however, the Jets should do what Martin deserves, and that is retire his number. This is the man who leads the franchise in rushing yards for his career, and leads many other categories as well, and since 1998 has been the face of the franchise.
This is a man who left it all on the field for the New York Jets. A man who will now wake up every day without cartilage in one ofÂ his knees and barely any in the other.Â Why?Â Because he left it all on the field, his desire to win was that strong.
He did whatever was in the best interest of the Jets every year. Whether it was giving up some of his money to get the team under the salary cap or enable them to sign a free agent, or whether it was playing hurt and churning out those yards that he just loved to run for.
One day, a few years from now, Curtis Martin will be placed into the Hall of Fame, as a New York Jet, but before then, his jersey should be hung on the wall of The Meadowlands and in the new stadium to come right next to Namath, Maynard, Klecko and Ewbank. Itâ€™s the least the Jets could do for one of the greatest players and people in franchise history.
Goodbye Curtis.Â The fans love you and appreciate what you have done for this franchise. You are a standup individual and it will never be the same rooting for another running back in Jet green. You were truly a joy to watch and cheer for. We wish you the best of luck and thank you for your heart and courage.
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