In professional sports there are many accolades thrown around at the athletes; all star, superstar, game breaker and show stopper to name a few. Many times these names fit the description of the player but often they do not. When legendary coach Bill Parcells was asked to describe his running back Curtis Martin, his response was short and quick “He’s a Natural”. When prodded to explain, his response included…he is a natural leader, a player that understands the game, respects the game and will do whatever it takes to improve his team. Coming from a hard knocks coach like Parcells these comments speak volumes about Curtis Martin and these sentiments can be heard from management and players throughout the National Football League.
Curtis Martin’s career as a Jet has been well documented, from his 1000 yard seasons, to his multi touchdown games, to his team MVP awards to his rushing title. Mr. Martin owns several Jets records and ranks highly in several all time NFL categories as well but in this case the numbers do not make the man. Curtis Martin is a classy individual that dares to be defined by character and pride and not by game statistics. He was a player that was not scared to face the music when the times were difficult, not scared to dig in deeper when the going got tough. Curtis was a player that did not feel obligated to make statements to his teammates in the media but he would grind it out on the practice field to prove his point. This was a man that refused to let pain hold back his desire to compete and lead his New York Jets to victory.
As much as Curtis Martin accomplished on the field, his impact off the field was just as noticeable. Curtis Martin was an active member in his community, a major contributor to charitable causes and a person that always took the time to share himself with the Jets fan base. Many stories have been written about Mr. Martin’s off the field accomplishments from his Man of the Year awards to being the spokesperson for the Jets charitable foundations. Of all the stories that were written there is one that sticks out that defines the man that is Curtis Martin. In the parking lot at the Meadowlands a woman was crying on her cell phone as her son sat next to her in wheelchair. There was a mistake with tickets at the will call window and she was not allowed to take her son to his first Jets game. The child was visibly upset and his mother was trying everything she could to resolve the situation. Finally the woman gave up and started to take her son back to the car apologizing as best she could for the mistake that was made. After a few steps she was stopped by a member of the Jets organization. The person informed the woman that she was giving her and her son two box tickets to that days game for free. The woman began to cry and the child screamed in joy. Why? How? The associate from the Jets said the person did not want to be identified but overheard the situation and wanted to lend a hand. The woman could not believe her ears and demanded to know as she needed to thank this generous individual for making her son’s dream come true. The associate did not have the information but assisted the woman and her son to their seats. As they sat down they were greeted with smiles from the section. As she continued to wonder whose seats she was sitting in, the woman next to her whispered, “I am glad Curtis was able to help you out”.
This Sunday the New York Jets will be honoring #28 Curtis Martin during halftime of their match up with the Pittsburgh Steelers. For everything Curtis has given to this organization and community it is time for Jets fans to give back the respect and passion he has given us. Get out your Martin jerseys, stay in your seats during halftime and give a hearty thank you to a player who is best described as being a Gentleman.
Thank you Curtis Martin, it has been honor watching you for all of these years and I cannot wait to salute you in Canton Ohio at the Football Hall of Fame.