Curtis Martin let his talent do the talking for him during a career which ranks him among the finest running backs ever to carry a football on an NFL field. He is one of just two players to start his NFL career with 10 straight 1,000 yards seasons.
Talk about making a splash, Martin had no difficulty in his transition from college to pro. He ripped off a 30-yard gain on his first NFL carry in the 1995 season opener against the Cleveland Browns. He capped the day by scoring the game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds of the New England Patriots 17-14 victory. On the day he had 102 yards on 19 carries to become the first Patriots player to rush for 100 yards in his pro debut.
Curtis was named the NFL’s Rookie of Year after leading the AFC in rushing with 1,487 yards. He joined exclusive company as only six other runners to date had led their conference in rushing and won Rookie of the Year honors. Jim Brown, Abner Hayes, Paul Robinson, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson and Barry Sanders have led their conference in rushing and won Rookie of the Year honors in the same season.
Martin’s ability to run and catch the football helped him rack up more than 14,000 all-purpose yards. He also threw the football during his career although just twice. However, both of his career pass attempts were for touchdowns, covered 18 yards and went to wideout Wayne Chrebet. The first Martin TD pass came as the game-winner on Sept. 24, 2000 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His second touchdown throw occurred a season later in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In 2004, Martin became the oldest player in NFL history (31) to win a rushing title
. He finished the season with a career-best 1,697 yards—one yard more than Seattle’s Shaun Alexander. Following a Week 16 game in which he rushed for just 33 yards, Martin erupted for 153 yards in the regular season finale against St. Louis. Alexander, who had rushed for 154 yards in Week 16, mustered 80 yards on 19 carries in Week 17, falling just shy of Martin.
Martin finished his storied career with exactly 100 touchdowns. He scored the first 37 with Patriots and the final 63 while playing for the Jets. Fifty-one of his touchdown runs came on rushes of three yards or less.
“Curtis Martin is one of the greatest running backs ever to play the game, and his impact on the New York Jets and the National Football League will never be forgotten.” - Jets Owner Woody Johnson
“Curtis is one of the most inspirational players I have ever seen. I always judge players by their ability to inspire others. I've seen Curtis Martin inspire numerous players and coaches and I was fortunate to be among those he inspired. He's one of the greatest players I have ever coached.” - former Jets and Patriots head coach Bill Parcells
“The ability to play at such a consistently high level every week he took the field will be the enduring football legacy of Curtis Martin. He is a man of unparalleled integrity who treats everyone who crosses his path with a great deal of respect.” - Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum
“When Curtis Martin stepped on the field, you knew one thing - whatever he had in his heart or in his body he was going to give.” - former Jets head coach Herm Edwards
“You might call Curtis an old-schooler. His values are a little different than a lot of young men. The guys who carry themselves with dignity get overlooked. This kid has had a great career. He should be in the Hall of Fame, no doubt about it.” - Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown
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