Curtis Martin New England Patriots & New York Jets
"It's not what you achieve in life, but who you become as a person due to those achievements.”
Running back Curtis Martin, who missed most of his final college season at the University of Pittsburgh with an ankle injury, was drafted in the third round by the New England Patriots in 1995. He showed no effects of that injury during his rookie season. He ran 30 yards on his first NFL carry, scored the game-winning touchdown and became the first Patriots player to rush for 100 yards in his pro debut. It was the first of a rookie-record-tying nine games that he eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Martin finished the year as the AFC's leading rusher with 1,487 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. He was named Rookie of the Year, All-AFC, and voted to the first of his five Pro Bowls.
Martin's steady output continued throughout his 11-season, 168-game career as he joined Hall of Famer Barry Sanders as the only runners ever to start their careers with 10 straight 1,000-yard seasons. Martin led his team in rushing in each of his 11 seasons in the NFL.
Martin, who signed as a restricted free agent with the New York Jets after his third season, had his finest year in his second to last season. He rushed for a career-high 1,697 yards in 2004 to win the lone NFL rushing title of his career. He also tied his career-high of nine games with 100 or more yards rushing. He was named first-team All-Pro for the second time of his career that season.
He suffered a knee injury late in his final year that snapped a streak of 119 consecutive starts and kept him from reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the only time of his career. He finished the final four weeks of the season on the injured reserve list. He later announced his retirement and left the game as the NFL's fourth all-time leading rusher.
Martin gained 14,101 yards on 3,518 carries and scored 90 rushing touchdowns in his career. He rushed for 100 or more yards in a game 57 times. He also caught 484 passes for 3,329 yards and 10 touchdowns and his 17,421 combined net yards placed him 10th all-time at the time of his retirement. The three-time All-AFC pick also threw two touchdown passes on his only career pass attempts.