Curtis Martin played with head injuries, doesn’t blame the NFL

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Curtis Martin, the former Jets and Patriots running back who is about to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, says he suffered “a lot” of concussions during his NFL career, and he became “an expert at covering it up.”

But at a time when thousands of former players are suing the NFL over concussions, Martin seems to view them more as an unfortunate reality of a long career than a reason to feel bitter toward his former employer.

This was just the mentality, it’s no fault of the NFL or anything, it’s just a part of the game,” Martin said today, via Jenny Vrentas of the Star Ledger. “When I would get hit, they knew that I popped up just like that, every time I get hit. . . . Any time that I didn’t pop up, my fullback knew to come pick me up because I was probably either dazed or knocked out.”

Martin believes the NFL is going to have a tough time changing the culture because football players don’t like being told that they need to sit out, even if it’s for their own good.

“The NFL not only has to deal with the fact that the game is changing and there are these real-life concussions and problems with health in the NFL,” he said, “but at the same time, they have to try to do everything around a player’s pride, around a player’s selfish motives or goals or whatever it may be. That’s something it just seems impossible to do. . . . I don’t think there’s anything they can do to prevent it. What can you do?”

The biggest challenge the league faces right now is figuring out what you can do to make football safer, without fundamentally changing the game.

17 responses to “Curtis Martin played with head injuries, doesn’t blame the NFL

  1. Curtis Martin had a successful career and probably didn’t blow all of the money he earned, hence he doesn’t blame the NFL

  2. A role model when he was in his prime and he remains accountable years into his retirement. I can’t wait for his induction speech this summer!

  3. It is truly refreshing to hear a former player that understands the nature of the game and is not looking for a handout from the league. I have lost all respect for any former player that is a part of the class-action suit against the league, and some of them I previously held in high regard.

  4. so all these players are told to go out of the game but they stay in anyways and risk further injury, but then years later they blame the NFL and sue them… um okay

  5. Imagine that. A player taking responsibility for his own actions instead of playing the blame game. About time.

  6. I applaud Curtis for his understanding of the situation, and I believe it goes without saying that he is very grateful to still have all of his faculties after a long career. But I don’t take his comments as a repudiation of the player’s suit; he knows he is one of the lucky ones, and a decent amount of former players do have a legit case for damages against a league that ignored medical science at best, and deliberately tried to cover it up as a worst case. In the end, it will all come out, and I reserve judgement until I have all the facts. And I am so happy for #28, go Jets and bless you Curtis Martin!

  7. That makes 3 responsible players I can think of so far, Martin, Hayes and Campbell.

    Can we get an official list of players taking responsibility?

  8. He didn’t buy a bunch of dealerships and big houses.. His wallet is a little fatter than others. It’s a waste of time for him to get involved in the lawsuit.

  9. Curtis Martin has always been a class act…I wonder who will present him at the hall of Fame?…I’m going to guess Bill Parcells. He drafted him and then signed him away from the Pats when he was with the Jets.

  10. As a lifelong Bills fan I hated playing against Martin and the Jets, but in this era of blame everyone but yourself when you’re broke, its nice to hear from a guy who takes responsibility for his actions and shows respect to the game he loved to play, instead of trying to tear it down.

  11. dryheaveone says:
    Jul 24, 2012 6:50 AM
    Curtis Martin has always been a class act…I wonder who will present him at the hall of Fame?…I’m going to guess Bill Parcells. He drafted him and then signed him away from the Pats when he was with the Jets.
    Yeah, good guess. He loved him some BP.
    I’ve always loved Curtis Martin. One of the marvels about his play is that he never loved the game, just looked at it as a job. I think his consistent excellence is even more astounding and admirable because of that. He 100% deserves to be in the Hall.

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