NY Jets: Wild Curtis Martin story details courage during 2004 season

NY Jets (Photo by Mitchell Reibel/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Mitchell Reibel/Getty Images) /

Former NY Jets running back Curtis Martin adds to his legacy with this wild story

NY Jets legend Curtis Martin is already one of the most captivating running backs in NFL history. From his decade-long 1,000-yard streak to his five Pro Bowl appearances, few are more accomplished than the man Bill Parcells once dubbed “Boy Wonder.”

But apart from his on-field accomplishments, Martin endeared himself to Jets fans with his grit, determination, and locker room leadership. Few individuals to don a Jets jersey are more respected than Martin was and still is.

And a recent story that has emerged from his playing days will only add to his growing legacy.

Martin recalled playing through a torn MCL for the majority of his legendary 2004 campaign that saw him rush for a career-high 1,697 yards en route to becoming the oldest player in NFL history to lead the league in rushing yards.

The full story came courtesy of an episode of the “Breakfast with Benz” podcast with Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“”My MCL had almost a grade 3 tear in it. It was so loose. I played with it from I believe the sixth or seventh game throughout the rest of the season. At the time, the doctors were telling me that I needed to sit out and let it rest and I may need surgery.”

Originally unsure of what he should do, Martin reached out to his former coach with both the Jets and the New England Patriots, Bill Parcells, to ask for advice. Parcells was in the middle of his second season with the Dallas Cowboys in what would be his final stint as an NFL head coach.

Martin recalled the advice that Parcells instilled upon him.

“He said, ‘Well, you know Boy Wonder, I always think that you should take care of your body, take care of yourself. I think that’s your priority and that’s what you should do because you never know how it will effect you longterm. But on the other hand, you never really wanna come out of the huddle because you never know who who’s going into the huddle.’ And that just stuck with me forever. He had told me something similar to that when I was a rookie, and so it’s always been my passion that no one else should ever get in that huddle.”

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Martin would, of course, go on to have the best season of his iconic 11-year career establishing himself as one of the greatest running backs of all-time. His production didn’t slow down in the playoffs either as he would help the Jets upset the San Diego Chargers in the Wild Card round.

Unfortunately, despite another solid game the following week, the Jets would fall just short of upsetting the 15-1 Pittsburgh Steelers following a pair of costly missed field goals.

Martin would end up playing one more season in 2005 — playing through another knee injury — before announcing his retirement in the offseason. At the time of his retirement, the future Hall-of-Famer was fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

Curtis Martin’s legacy with the NY Jets

At 31-years-old, Curtis Martin rushed for an NFL-best 1,697 yards and 12 touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry. That season was already one of the most impressive in NFL history before this absolutely wild story was revealed.

Now, it very well could go down as the single-greatest season by an offensive player in Jets history.

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Martin’s legacy not only with the Jets, but as a football player was already solidified. But the tales of his toughness from 2004 will forever be remembered in NFL lore.