Curtis Martin: “My Legacy Starts with Me as a Man.”


August 4, 2012; Canton, OH, USA; New York Jets former running back Curtis Martin poses with his bust during the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Curtis Martin was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month. This afternoon at MetLife Stadium, his #28 jersey was retired by the New York Jets during a ceremony at halftime. When players earn these types of accomplishments, they often look back on where they have been as a football player. Curtis was a little different, talking about how important being a good man is first:

I think my legacy starts with me as a man. A lot of times I try to read as much fan mail as possible and it’s rare that someone talks about a game that I played or a run that I’ve had. Most of the people tell me about the impact that I’ve had on their lives, how I inspired them, or aspired them to do something better or more in their lives. That’s what I want my legacy to be. I want to be known as the man more so than the football player.

He had a tough time talking about what the honor today meant to him:

Words can’t express (how I feel). I almost feel like it’s the Hall of Fame. There’s a part of this that’s even bigger than the Hall of Fame because it’s the hometown, it’s the crowd that I’ve played in front of for all these years. I’m just excited. I’m usually not really excited until I’m coming through the tunnel, but I’m already excited.

Curtis gave a particularly moving speech for his induction in August. He was particularly moved by one member of the public’s reaction to it:

Oh my gosh, I think one of the most telling things for me was being at an autograph signing the next day and there was a little eight-year-old boy who tried to express to me in his little eight-year-old words how much my speech touched him. And literally, a few people down the line was a guy who had to be at least 90-years-old or so in a wheel chair, trying to tell me or express the same things that the eight-year-old was trying to express. So it really made me feel good.

What would he teach to younger people if he could?

I always believe that it’s the man that makes the game and not the game that makes the man. I put a lot of work, as much and even more work into myself and becoming who I am just naturally so I don’t have to try to be someone or try to be a good person. I’ve tried to really create my life around doing what’s right. A lot of people say the good guy never wins, I feel like I’m proof that if you do things the right way and if you work hard enough the good guy can win. I’m not calling myself good, but I just feel like I’ve tried to do things the right way and if there’s anything I could pass onto younger kids it’s to do things the right way. Don’t take the shortcuts because shortcuts never last long.

“The man who makes the game…” That couldn’t have been said by a classier guy. A great player and a great man. Thanks Curtis, you are an example of everything good about the game.