At Pitt, running back Curtis Martin wore 29. As a rookie at New England in 1995, 29 wasn’t available. Eventually, he landed in 28.
Martin tells the story of how he settled on the number that eventually was retired for him by the Jets in an inteview to be aired during Wednesday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN.
“They only had the number 39, which I thought was horrible, and then I finally got a chance to get number 26 and shortly after that when I took number 26 a guy got cut and his number was 28 and I was speaking to someone about what numbers, what options I had,” Martin said. “And at the time I was speaking to a pastor and I told him what numbers were available between 26 and 28, and he said 28.
“He said because that is a really important Bible verse,” Martin explained. “It’s Deuteronomy 28, and he said that it talks about the blessings for obedience and all that. So I took the number and Deuteronomy 28 became my only ritual before every game. I would read it and that’s the reason why I wore number 28.”
Martin, the fourth leading rusher in NFL history, expects to get knocked to No. 5 eventually to another man who wears 28.
“I think Adrian Peterson is probably one of the most gifted running backs I have ever seen,” Martin said. “There’s three guys that I put in their own league. That’s Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson, as far as running backs go. I don’t think that there’s anyone in the history of the NFL that has the talent and ability that those guys have. . . . I think [Peterson is] one of the few running backs who has the potential of being number four, three, or whatever he chooses to do. It all depends on how long he can last in the NFL because if he can last for 15 years like Emmit Smith then he’ll probably have about 22,000 yards or something like that.”
For the full Martin interview, tune in for Wednesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN. We get rolling with a full hour at 5:30 p.m. ET.