Colleges With Most Players In Pro Football Hall Of Fame A True NFL Legend In Sport and Spirit: Curtis Martin

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A True NFL Legend In Sport and Spirit: Curtis Martin

NFL football fans around the world take pride in their team’s camaraderie, player stats and championship potential every year. Most people begin by announcing to their friends and family that their team is destined to reach the postseason in brash fashion at the start of each season. That’s something most football fans have in common, even if the Super Bowl isn’t their goal, having a 500 team is. Football fans love to talk about their teams and the players who march onto the field each week on their behalf. When player comparisons begin to swirl in the crowd, especially where running backs are concerned, no smack talking session is complete without mentioning football legend Curtis Martin.

Curtis James Martin, Jr. was born and raised on the low-income streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Curtis was raised by a single mother who suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of his father before abandoning the two after he reached the age of double digits. Despite the hardships her family faced, his hard-working mother saw to it that her son’s infectious smile and friendly unassuming personality would not go to waste on the streets. She transferred him to a high school where education was not only a priority but a precise focus. Curtis Martin never touched a football, at least not in organized sports, until he was a senior in high school, which makes his story all the more remarkable to NFL football fans across the country.

Football was only an extracurricular for Curtis at the insistence of his mother. She knew the less time he had to spend wallowing in the gruesome violence inflicted on him, the better off he would be. Football became the outlet, with his immense natural ability and talent not overlooked by his high school coach. After playing a year at every position on the team, including quarterback, he was getting offers from colleges across the country.

In an effort to stay close to home, Curtis chose the University of Pittsburgh. With a college career plagued by various injuries, Curtis opted for his redshirt availability and anticipated what could be his final year entertaining NFL football scouts as an amateur. He declared his eligibility for the 1995 NFL Draft and entered the third round as late as New England before being selected. The Patriots would be the first to use Curtis’ speed, style and stamina to impress the NFL football world at large, and with his success, Curtis would finally be able to move his mother into a position of comfort. The latter, he always explained, was his only determined success, endearing him instantly to everyone he met.

Curtis was a workhorse, winning his first rushing title in 1995, the same year he was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. A year later he joined his Patriots teammates in Super Bowl XXXI, losing to the Green Bay Packers by two touchdowns. He became a free agent in 1997 and was traded to the New York Jets where he spent the remainder of his career. His hard work and exceptional aptitude for the game allowed him to play seven full seasons for the Jets, missing just one game.

Curtis proved his toughness in the history books after adding another rushing title to his dossier, adding five Pro Bowl selections and all pro assignments to match. Loved by many and respected by all, Curtis never wavered in his smash mouth football skills, even towards the end of his career. Nearly ten years after the start of what would come to be prominently in NFL uniforms, Curtis became the oldest player to win a rushing title at age 31. His reputation for excelling in sports he never cared for as a child. 4th in NFL history books in rushing yards. Many argue that had he not suffered a serious knee injury, he could have climbed to number one on that prestigious list.

As the team retired his #28 jersey in 2012, he became permanently designated a New York Jet, and became permanent to the rest of the league and his fans when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame that same year. His induction speech was a vivid reminder to everyone who loves football and the man who drove the ball with such precision and skill for so many years, that life, love and family mattered more than anything else.

In pure Curtis Martin fashion, after recounting his life in gruesome detail, he thanked the game of football for making him the person he is today. Who he is today serves as a beacon of hope for youth across the country, thanks to the Curtis Martin Job Foundation, which provides support and financial assistance to single mothers and helps the less-privileged through several charities. Where there’s heart there’s soul, and Curtis Martin developed both in extraordinary fashion.

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