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"It's not what you achieve in life, but who you become as a person due to those achievements.”
(Pittsburgh)...5'11'', 207...Curtis James Martin, Jr. ... Drafted in third round by Patriots, 1995 … Led AFC in rushing as rookie … Second player in NFL history to start career with 10 straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons … Led his team in rushing every season… Rushed for career-high 1,697 yards, won NFL rushing title, 2004 … Retired as NFL’s fourth all-time leading rusher (14,101) … Scored 90 rushing, 10 receiving TDs … Combined net yards (17,421) was 10th all-time … Born May 1, 1973 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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.
1996 AFC – New England Patriots 20, Jacksonville Jaguars 6
Martin started at running back. He had 19 rushes for 59 yards and one touchdown and three receptions for 18 yards.
1998 AFC – Denver Broncos 23, New York Jets 10
Martin started at running back. He had 13 rushes for 14 yards and one touchdown. He also had four receptions for 39 yards and one fumble.
Super Bowl XXXI – Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21
Martin started at running back. He had 11 rushes for 42 yards and one touchdown and three receptions for 28 yards.
All-Pro: 2001 (PFWA, SN) • 2004 (AP, PFWA, SN)
All-Pro Second Team: 1999 (AP) • 2001 (AP)
All-AFC: 1995 (UPI, PW) • 2001 (PW) 2004 (PW)
All-AFC Second: 1996 (UPI)
(5) – 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005*
*Did not play
In the NFL Record Book
(at time of his retirement following 2005 season)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Seasons 1,000 or More Rushing Yards – 10
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Consecutive Seasons 1,000 or More Rushing Yards – 10
• [3rd] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 3,518
• [3rd] Most Combined Attempts, Career – 4,016
• [3rd] Most Combined Attempts, Rookie Season – 401 (1995)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Rookie Season – 14 (1995)
• [2nd] Most Combined Attempts, Game – 42 (vs. Jacksonville, 1998)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Touchdowns, Game – 3 (vs. Pittsburgh, 1996)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Game – 3 (vs. Pittsburgh, 1996)
• [3rd] Longest Run from Scrimmage – 78t (vs. Pittsburgh, 1996)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Consecutive Games Rushing for a Touchdown – 5 (1996-98)
Pro Bowl Records
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Career – 2
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Touchdowns, Career – 3
Patriots records held by Martin
(Records through the 1997 season, Martin's final season with New England)
• [1st] Most Consecutive Games Scoring a Touchdown – 7 (Oct. 13 to Nov. 24, 1996)
• [1st] Most Consecutive Games Scoring a Rushing Touchdown – 7 (Oct. 13 to Nov. 24, 1996)
• [1st] Most Touchdowns Scored, Season – 17 (1996)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 368 (1995)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 40 (vs. New York Jets, Sept. 14, 1997)
• [1st] Most Yards Rushing, Season – 1,487 (1995)
• [1st] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Season – 14 (1995, 1996)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Game – 3 (vs. Miami, Nov. 3, 1996)
• [2nd] Most Touchdowns Scored, Season – 15 (1995)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 316 (1996)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Consecutive Games Scoring a Touchdown – 5 (Oct. 23 to Nov. 19, 1995)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Consecutive Games Scoring a Rushing Touchdown – 5 (Oct. 23 to Nov. 19, 1995)
• [3rd] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 36 (vs. Buffalo, Oct. 23, 1995)
• [3rd] Most Yards Rushing, Game – 199 (vs. New York Jets, Sept. 14, 1997)
• [1st] Most Points, Game – 18 (vs. Pittsburgh, Jan. 5, 1997)
• [1st] Most Rushing Yards, Game – 166 (vs. Pittsburgh, Jan. 5, 1997)
• [1st] Longest Run from Scrimmage – 78t (vs. Pittsburgh, 1996)
• [1st] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Career – 5
• [1st] Longest Rushing Touchdown – 78 (vs. Pittsburgh, 1996)
• [2nd] Most Points, Career – 30
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 49
• [2nd] Most Rushing Yards, Career – 297
• [2nd] Longest Rushing Touchdown – 23 (vs. Pittsburgh, 1996)
• [3rd] Longest Rushing Touchdown – 18 (vs. Green Bay, Super Bowl XXXI)
• [Tied for 3rd] Longest Run from Scrimmage – 23t (vs. Pittsburgh, 1996)
Jets records held by Martin
(Records through the 2005 season, Martin's final season with New York)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 371 (2004)
• [1st] Most Rushing Yards, Career – 10,030
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 2,560
• [1st] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Season – 12 (2004)
• [1st] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Career – 58
• [Tied for 1st] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Game – 3 (at New England, Oct. 15, 2000; vs. Kansas City, Nov. 11, 2001)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 38 (vs. Arizona, Nov. 7, 1999)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 369 (1998)
• [3rd] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 36 (vs. Miami, Oct. 4, 1998)
• [3rd] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 367 (1999)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Points Scored, Game – 18 (at New England, Oct. 15, 2000; vs. Kansas City, Nov. 11, 2001)
League/Team Statistical Titles
NFL Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 2004
AFC Statistical Championships
Touchdown Titles: 1996
Rushing Titles: 1995, 2004
Team Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1995NE, 1996NE, 1997NE, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
NENew England Patriots All other titles won with New York Jets
Awards and Honors
• 1995 Rookie of the Year (PFWA, SN)
• 1995 AFC Rookie of the Year (UPI)
• 1995 Offensive Rookie of the Year (AP, PW)
Full Name: Curtis James Martin, Jr.
Birthdate: May 1, 1973
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
High School: Allderdice (Pittsburgh, PA)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: February 4, 2012
Enshrinened into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 4, 2013
Presenter: Bill Parcells, Curtis' former coach
Other Members of Class of 2012: Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf
Pro Career: 11 seasons, 168 games
Drafted: 3rd round (74th player overall) in 1995 by New England Patriots
Uniform Number: 28
First of all, I just want to thank you all. It's been a long night, and thank you for your patience and your support for everybody up here on this stage. I also want to thank Cortez Kennedy for speaking so long that God decided to turn the lights out. Also, you know something, I learned so much this weekend. Something I didn't know, excuse me for a second. This has nothing to do with the Hall of Fame.
But Willie Roaf, can you stand up for one second? You see how big this man is? So we come in on Thursday, and we're all sitting around, and this big dude, right here, imagine this guy is so big. He said, “Hey, y'all, let's go get some mani and pedis and go get a facial.” I said, “What, man, what?” All right, all right, all right. I'm sorry, Roaf, I said I was going to pick on you about that.
Well, listen, this has just been unbelievable for me. I'll tell you this, I came into Canton this week, and everyone here who knows me, this section, everyone knows me. You know that I was never a football fan. I wasn't the type of guy to watch football. I could probably count on one hand how many football games I've watched from beginning to end in my lifetime.
Also, another thing about me is I played running back. I'm up here because of how many yards I ran. Everyone who knows me also knows that I hate to run. I don't like to run at all. I box now to stay in shape just because I don't want to run anywhere.
But this has been an incredible road for me. When I'm in situations like this, especially when I'm being honored for something that I've achieved in football, it always makes me feel a little awkward and out of place because I've just never really been able to identify with the love and the passion that a lot of my colleagues and a lot of the other alumni of the Hall of Fame have.
Most of these guys have lived for the game of football and eat, breath, sleep football. I was someone who was somewhat forced to play football. I can remember draft day like it was yesterday. My family and I were sitting around and were watching the draft. The phone rings and it's Bill Parcells. I answer the phone and say “Hello,” and Parcells says, “Curtis, we want to know if you're interested in being a New England Patriot?” I said, “Yes, yes, sir.” And we hang up the phone. As soon as we hang up the phone I turn around to everyone and I said, “Oh my gosh, I do not want to play football.”
No, you're laughing, but this is the truth. I turned around and said, “I don't want to play football. I don't even know that I like football enough to try to make a career out of it.” My pastor at the time was a guy by the name of Leroy Joseph, and I'm so glad he was there to talk some sense into me. He says, “Curtis, look at it this way, man.” He said, “Maybe football is just something that God is giving you to do all those wonderful things that you say you want to do for other people.” I tell you, it was like a light bulb came on in my head.
That became my connection with football. I don't know if he wouldn't have said that to me if football would have gotten out of me what it got out of me. I definitely wouldn't be standing here. And ever since he said that, I knew the only way I was going to be successful at this game called football is if I played for a purpose that was bigger than the game itself because I knew that the love for the game just wasn't in my heart.
Let me say this: This weekend, and I'll tell you this, and this is God's honest truth, I came up here. I had a chance to spend time with the older guys and the guys who have been inducted. I had a chance to listen to their experience. On Friday morning, we went and listened to Ralph Wilson speak. Just the passion that he had for this game, being one of the founders, one of the founding fathers of this game, there was something that rubbed off on me, and literally yesterday I felt like it was my first day as a fan of the game of football.
Let me tell you about how I got started playing. So I grew up in a pretty bad neighborhood. But the household that I lived in was even worse. I had a father who I love him dearly and he's passed and gone on, but he was my guy before he died. But when I was 5 years old, I remember watching him torture my mother, I mean, literally. I don't necessarily have notes, so I'm going to bare my soul and just bear with me.
But I remember watching him torture you. He had my mother locked in the bathroom. Had her sitting on the edge of the tub, and he turned on all the hot water and stopped the tub up so that the hot water would eventually flow on her legs. He dared her to move. As the hot water flowed up and started going on her legs and going on her feet and she would flinch a little bit, he would rush into the bathroom, take her hair and burn it with a lighter. He would come back out, watch her some more, she'd move again, and he would go in there with a cigarette and put cigarette burns all over her legs which she still bares to this day. I've seen him beat her up like she was a man. I've seen him throw her down the steps. I've witnessed this woman go to they got a bet on whether I'm going to cry or not. So I'm going to hold it in.
I've watched my mother get punched in the face, have a black eye and then go to work with make up on just to support our family. I've watched this. She did everything to raise me and in hindsight when you're a kid and your mother's tough on you, you don't necessarily understand why. I used to think it was because my dad was so tough on her that it would just naturally make her tough on me.
I heard a saying one time that says, “Hurt people, hurt people.” And my mother was dealing with so much hurt and pain, and I know that she had to take some of that out somewhere. Mom, I'm so grateful that I was there for you to even take some of that pain out on, because you deserved it.
By the time I was 5, my dad was gone. My mother, because we couldn't afford it, she would work two and three jobs. She tied a shoe string around my neck with a key and taught me how to come in the house. I'd come from kindergarten and first grade almost for two years and stay in the house by myself till like 9:30, 10:00 at night, and my mother said it broke her heart every single day walking up those steps. We lived in sort of a low income housing project type environment, and I would always be sitting in that front window because I was scared.
So I was so petrified of being in the house by myself. I didn't even watch "Scooby Doo". I was that scared. The ghosts on "Scooby Doo" scared the heck out of me.
But my mother made a way for me to start staying in between her and my grandmother. When I was 9, my mother, she walks into my grandmother's bedroom and found her murdered. Found her murdered with a knife in her chest, and her neck was broken and everything, eyes wide open, blood everywhere.
And for me as a little kid, all the other family, they come in and you hear the whispers from adults as a little kid, and they affect you a certain way. I just heard everyone saying, “If that happened to me, I would go crazy. I would lose my mind.” For me, crazy was kind of like what my dad was. So in my mind, as a 9 year old, my mother told me the only thing that got her through that was I came up to her and grabbed her hand and said, “Mom, are you going crazy?” And she looked down at me and said, “No. Why do you ask me that?” And I just said, “Well, that's good because if you go crazy, nobody's going to be here to take care of me.” I'm so grateful to my mother. That is the strongest individual that I've ever known, and I appreciate her so much.
If all those things and the story gets better. But just for right now, just entertain me. If that wasn't enough on my mother. When I was 13, her sister, who was like my other mother got killed and died an even worse or more painful death than my grandmother did. Even through that, my mother stayed strong and raised me.
By the time I was 15, growing up in the environment that I was in, I had so many brushes with death. I remember one distinct time a guy had a gun to my head, a loaded gun to my head, pulled the trigger seven times. God's honest truth, the bullet didn't come out. He wasn't pointing the gun at me and pulled the trigger and a bullet came out. I was too young to even recognize that God was saving my life.
You get to by the time I'm in high school. By this time I'm a full-fledged product of my environment. I've done a lot of things that I'm not proud of. But my mother comes to me and she says, “Curt, listen. Your grandmother's gone. My sister's gone. You've had so many brushes with death yourself, I'm just going to tell you this, Curt, I want you to do something after school. It doesn't matter what it is. It could be football, baseball, basketball, join the glee club, join the band, whatever it may be. Just do something so you're not in this neighborhood 24 hours a day, just take up two extra hours of your time.” She said, “Because if something happens to you, they might as well kill me too, because you're the only thing that I'm living for.”
Mom, I thank you so much for the sacrifices that you've made for me.