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Curtis Martin didn’t want to play football

2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Getty Images

As it often does, the Pro Football Hall of Fame saved the best for last.

Running back Curtis Martin, fourth on the all-time rushing list, entered Canton the right way, with a stirring, heartfelt, notes-free speech that was inspiring, moving, and entertaining.

Martin explained that he wasn’t a football fan.  After then-Patriots coach Bill Parcells called Martin to advise the former Pitt Panther that he’d been selected in the third round of the 1995 draft, Martin said, “Oh my gosh, I don’t want to play football.”

Martin said that his pastor at the time put the situation in perspective.  “Curtis, look at it this way,” LeRoy Joseph told Martin.  “Maybe football is just something God is giving you to do all those wonderful things that you say you want to do for other people.”

The man who went on to play for the Patriots and Jets explained that he decided in that moment he would embrace the game.  Martin also said that, on Friday of this week, he finally became a fan of football after hearing 93-year-old Bills owner Ralph Wilson speak passionately about the sport — and after spending time with current and former Hall of Famers.

Only a portion of his words related to football.  Martin shared details about his difficult upbringing, from examples of physical and mental abuse inflicted by his late father on Martin’s mother to an instance in which a man held a gun to Martin’s head, pulling the trigger seven times without the bullet coming out.  And when the man pulled the trigger when the gun wasn’t pointed at Martin’s head, the bullet emerged.

Martin eventually made a deal with God, pledging to live the right way and do whatever God wants from Martin if Martin makes it past 21 years of age.  Now 39, Martin said, “God has upheld his end of the bargain and I’m gonna spend the rest of my life trying to uphold my end of the bargain.”

Martin upheld his end of the bargain on Saturday night, with the kind of candor that can persuade others in difficult situations to not give up — or to resolve to find a way to make things better.

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37 Responses to “Curtis Martin didn’t want to play football”
  1. bobzilla1001 says: Aug 4, 2012 10:35 PM

    The only person more anxious than myself to see Martin’s speech come to an end was Martin’s uncomfortable and embarrassed mother. Awkward. Very awkward.
    Curtis Martin might be the only Hofer in history to ever admit he played for the fame and money rather than for the love of the game.

  2. hulkhogansays says: Aug 4, 2012 10:37 PM

    Curtis Martin is a shining example that if you play nice with the media, they’ll return the favor in a huge way. On the field, Martin is NOT worthy of being a legend. This induction is unfair to folks like Chris Carter, Tom Flores etc.

  3. suicidalionsfan says: Aug 4, 2012 10:38 PM

    Curtis Martin ~ Pure class

  4. patriotsdefense says: Aug 4, 2012 10:51 PM

    The Patriots still haven’t replaced him. The Jets still haven’t replaced him.

    Curtis Martin is an amazing human.

  5. terminalsd says: Aug 4, 2012 10:54 PM

    WORST hall of fame speech EVER! He needs a therapist. He didn’t love football? I guess they should gave let Chris Carter in then!! Way too much personal stuff that I really don’t care to hear!

    I played little league football with him, he let Pittsburgh down!! What a weirdo!

  6. monkeyhateclean says: Aug 4, 2012 10:55 PM

    What if, when he dies, he finds out it was Thor all along?

  7. mianfr says: Aug 4, 2012 10:58 PM

    That was a really phenomenal speech, for a multitude of reasons.

    Also, he is absolutely a HOF player. Don’t waste comments arguing otherwise. Check the stats.

  8. giantssb42champs says: Aug 4, 2012 11:11 PM

    Class act all the way. And highly underrated during his playing career because he was not flashy nor did he provide much fodder for the media because he was a good citizen. Definitely deserves to be in the HOF.

  9. mikeyz6 says: Aug 4, 2012 11:22 PM

    Curtis martin was one of the most consistant running backs in history. So what for whatever reason he didnt love the game. He put his heart and soul into work ethic and to do what ever he did at 110%

  10. 1122world says: Aug 4, 2012 11:31 PM

    Not sure how anyone would think that Martin was not “worthy”.
    Not sure how you would see that Martin played the game for fame and glory oh yes and money ($) – you know the stuff we all get up and go to work for.
    He cleary stated he didn’t want to play football. He didn’t jump at the chance to be famous and rich.
    He accepted it as a job because it was a means to an end, because his true passion was to be of service to others, especially after what he had already experienced in the “real” world.
    His reality had been checked early on in life so he was able to put things in perspective.
    And now he’s out being of service to others in need.
    That’s a true life mentor – football or not.
    Get a grip boys and take note.

  11. aldavis4president says: Aug 4, 2012 11:34 PM

    The 1st two posts are idiotic to say the least. Curtis Martin had a extremely successful career and him being 3rd all time in rushing speaks for itself! Consistent throughout his career and never was in the headlines for the wrong things. Well deserved.

  12. barkymark says: Aug 4, 2012 11:34 PM

    Bobzilla – wait a minute, Hoss. Apparently you and I weren’t listening to the same speech. At one point did CM say he played for the fame and money? And nice way to put words in his mother’s mouth. You have no idea how she was feeling.

    And you, Mr. Hulk Hogan says…4th in rushing history and he’s not worthy? Did you just now start watching football or what?

  13. raysfan1 says: Aug 4, 2012 11:36 PM

    @hulkhogansays–
    Really, do you even watch football?

    First you make a patently ridiculous assertion that Willie Roaf doesn’t belong in the Hall, and try to justify yourself with his teammate’s ineptitude as if it’s relevant. That man was first or second team All Pro 9 times, All Decade inboth the ’90s and ’00s, 11 times in the Pro Bowl.

    Now you make a frankly ignorant statement that the running back with the 4th most yards all time doesn’t belong in the Hall. You do realize he surpassed 1000 yards rushing 10 straight years, don’t you? How about that he scored 100 TDs? What currently active player other than Adrian Peterson is likely to approach his 14,101 yards (assuming AP stays healthy)?

    As I cannot see how anyone sane or sober can look at either Roaf or Martin and not recognize their worthiness as Hall of Famers, I must assume you are just another knuckle-dragging troll.

  14. mistersmith22 says: Aug 4, 2012 11:39 PM

    hulkhogansays says:
    Aug 4, 2012 10:37 PM
    Curtis Martin is a shining example that if you play nice with the media, they’ll return the favor in a huge way. On the field, Martin is NOT worthy of being a legend. This induction is unfair to folks like Chris Carter, Tom Flores etc.

    ——————

    He’s got the fourth-most rushing yards all time and is 7th in total yards from scrimmage. He’s only the second guy to rush for 1000 yards for his first ten years. He’s third all-time in consecutive starts, 12th in career TDs, and was only the 19th player to 100 career TDs.

    Something about that DOESN’T say Hall of Fame to you? I’ve never felt anything but hate for NE and NYJ, but man, how can you deny that ability and consistency?

  15. drewsylvania says: Aug 4, 2012 11:40 PM

    Wow.

  16. howiehandles says: Aug 4, 2012 11:44 PM

    Not a fan of the Pats or Jets, nor much of Martin (wasn’t on one of my teams), but the guy was the FOURTH all time leading rusher. What is there to debate?

  17. kd727 says: Aug 4, 2012 11:49 PM

    “from examples of physical and mental abuse inflicted by his late father on Martin’s mother to an instance in which a man held a gun to Martin’s head, pulling the trigger seven times without the bullet coming out.”

    F’n a Cotton…f’n a.

  18. dachozen1 says: Aug 5, 2012 12:13 AM

    Curt moved to my neighborhood during his high school years. We would hang in his basement that he turned into his bedroom. He was always honest, humble and the most giving person you could ever meet. He was always a sharp dresser. If you told him you liked his shirt ( or anything he wore), he’d ask you if you wanted it. Then he’d give it to you or make a small deal in your favor to get that item. I’m proud and happy to see him in position to do for his mother. Before the fame, he was a genuinely good dude. He definitely is not an act. Curt was the same guy today that I met over 20 years ago in the burgh.

  19. scrotiemcb says: Aug 5, 2012 12:23 AM

    Not even the best RB of his era…couldn’t carry TD’s jock. To his credit, however, he played exceptionally close to the Atlantic Ocean.

  20. raysfan1 says: Aug 5, 2012 12:32 AM

    My apologies to hulkhogansays regarding Willie Roaf, it was another poster who dissed him. He’s still nuts if he doesn’t think Curtis Martin belongs in the Hall though.

  21. bobzilla1001 says: Aug 5, 2012 12:41 AM

    barkymark: Martin’s mother’s body language and her demeanor spoke volumes. She looked visibly taken aback and uncomfortable by Martin’s off-the-cuff comments about her relationship with her husband.
    The doorsteps of Canton are not the place to air dirty laundry.
    Secondly, if a guy says he never liked football and only played so he could help others, that suggests to me that played for the fame and money. i found his honesty for be refreshing.
    He lost me a few times, however, when he said that Parcells was his only “adult male role model.” I believe he said the same about five or six others during his speech.

  22. nineroutsider says: Aug 5, 2012 1:34 AM

    Curtis Martin is a HOF’er, easily. He never blew me away like Emmitt or Faulk did, but for years he was great. He gave defenses a lot of trouble for a long time; he deserves to be in the hall. He was a deceptively elusive runner who you didn’t want to hit that 2nd gear because he’d gash you big time.

    Even if you weren’t able to watch him play his entire career, the stats prove it.

    Also, if you don’t think Willie Roaf is HOF’er, you a) are trolling or b) don’t know crap about the game and should stop commenting on it as if you do.

  23. lgwelsh1 says: Aug 5, 2012 1:48 AM

    I don’t think I have ever seen a person speak so frankly and openly about his/her life before in a public forum.

    You can tell he spoke the truth, it was really strange and riveting at the same time. He said what he said and you can tell he had zero regrets.

  24. danfoutsbeard619 says: Aug 5, 2012 1:54 AM

    His play on the field certainly makes him a first ballot hall of famer. That being said that was the worst HOF speech in history. He could of relayed the effects of his violent upbringings without all the details. Im sure many people were uncomfortable hearing vivid descriptions of abuse,violence and murder. And him being disappointed in being recruited by every school in the country “Great doing two things I dont like football and school” thats hard to hear. So many people wish they had the opportunies he had but nowhere near his natural athletic abilities, at least he put it together as an adult to become one of the greatest RBs to ever play.

  25. patriotsdefense says: Aug 5, 2012 2:01 AM

    My favorite Curtis Martin game was the Fog Bowl at old Foxboro.

    It’s was his first playoff game. He had 2 TDs, one of which he took for 78 yards. Finished the game with 166 yards rushing, 200+ all around yards.

    He was the only Patriots player that ever looked good in those ugly 90′s uniforms. So happy for him and his family. I’m even happy for Jets fans. It’s nice that we can put differences aside and come together to recognize one of the greatest of all time.

    He will always be remembered as a Jets. I’m just happy he started as a Patriot was able to taste a Super Bowl. Class act and not only a HOF but one of the greatest to ever play.

  26. mmmpierogi says: Aug 5, 2012 2:21 AM

    Secondly, if a guy says he never liked football and only played so he could help others, that suggests to me that played for the fame and money. i found his honesty for be refreshing.

    **********************************************************************

    Was he not the one inducted today that said something along the lines of “It’s not what you achieve, but the person that you become in making those achievements?” I’m going off of memory as I don’t have a clip of it and I couldn’t find transcripts in a 30-second Google search, so if I’m wrong, correct me; however, I’m about 97.5% certain that those words were his. Somehow, those words, and pretty much everything else he said during the speech, do not strike me as something that someone would say if they were trying to convey that they played for fame.

    With regard to money, let’s assume that he was motivated on some level, even if only slightly, to earn money by taking advantage of a rare talent so he could help his family out. What, are you gonna judge a guy for that? Awesome.

  27. hifive123 says: Aug 5, 2012 2:49 AM

    Thanks be to God.

  28. xkevlared says: Aug 5, 2012 3:25 AM

    Curtis martin is nothing but a class act, and even though i hate the jets with a passion, i can say that he is probably the only player that i respected who has played for the jets. and not only was it due to his play on the field, but also the person that he is off the field.

    10 straight 1000 yard season
    4th all team in rushing

    Curtis Martin deserves to be in the HOF, without a doubt

  29. csszrr says: Aug 5, 2012 4:18 AM

    His first pro game was aginst the beloved Brownies. He torched us. Was a fan since then. Curtis Martin. Class act and an ornament to Taylor-Alderdice HS.

  30. matt14gg says: Aug 5, 2012 6:30 AM

    Anyone that says Curtis Martin is not a Hall of Famer is immediately disqualified from this post. If you don’t think he belongs in the Hall you either don’t know football or you have an axe to grind (looking at you, Cris Carter fans). He was a GREAT and reliable running back. Even though he came out of college with an injury history, which is the reason he dropped to the 3rd round, he was one of the most durable running backs in the history of the game. And BTW, in my book he’ll always be a Patriot!

  31. matt14gg says: Aug 5, 2012 7:37 AM

    BTW, as much as I love Curtis Martin, it’s a little disingenuous for him to say he told Parcells he didn’t want to play football. He came out after his (red-shirt) junior year, so he had to file papers with the league to make himself eligible for the draft. If he “didn’t want to play” football I find it hard to believe he would have declared early for a draft into a league he didn’t want to be a part of.

  32. dtr3e says: Aug 5, 2012 8:27 AM

    Curt is one of my all time favorite Jets, I’m so happy he got in. Everything he said last night I’ve heard him say before. I don’t know if he didn’t love the game, cuz I remember when he retired he wanted to be an owner so he could stay involved in the game.

  33. waldoampere says: Aug 5, 2012 8:41 AM

    Bill Parcells had a great comment about RBs… Either they gain yards or they don’t.

    Curtis Martin gained yards, more than anyone except Smith, Payton, and Sanders. If that’s not HoF then what is?

  34. paperlions says: Aug 5, 2012 9:32 AM

    I love the response to Marin having such a bad concussion that he didn’t know which huddle he was in…..people laughed. Yeah, that was funny, he had a serious brain injury and was trying to be in on the next play.

    Just shows how much the culture of football in regards to concussions has changed in the last few years.

  35. ravenseattheirownpoop says: Aug 5, 2012 10:23 AM

    Curtis Martin: a real genuine class act.
    The game could use so many more people like him. Good for u Curtis!!

  36. jimjets says: Aug 5, 2012 1:35 PM

    love that cat, proud to be a jets fan today

    if you had a team full of curtis martins and wayne chrebets you’d win plenty of super bowls

  37. patriotenvy says: Aug 6, 2012 9:40 AM

    I’ll never forget after Curtis’s first big game as a Patriot the media was all over him and he was hamming it up. Tuna got mad and told the reporters they were making a big deal over a “one game wonder”.

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