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  1. #1
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    One of the best ever.....

    By Adrian Wojnarowski
    Special to ESPN.com

    The big, brash and loud football stars have come and gone in New York, but Curtis Martin never did run his mouth. Just the ball. He's had no books and no enemies, like Keyshawn Johnson. He doesn't have his face everywhere on television, like Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber. He's never acted the fool, like Jeremy Shockey.


    No, the best football player in New York is running for Canton without a word. Most of all, Martin is running hard into forever.



    Curtis Martin doesn't do a lot of boasting. He just lets his game do his talking.
    "When he scores touchdowns, he doesn't have a nickname," Jets coach Herm Edwards said. "He doesn't have a dance. He's done it so many times in his career, it's like he knows he belongs there."


    He belongs there. He belongs with the greats of the game, but it's easy to forget sometimes. He should be the biggest star in the biggest market in America, but he never screams "Look at me!" and never gives highlight show hysterics, and never rips anyone, and never does anything but take blame when the Jets lose, and pass the praise when they win. Martin's going to the Hall of Fame, but he doesn't need to tell you every five minutes. Truth be told, he never tells you. Martin is the rarest of stars in sports today: He's too busy showing you.


    At a time when NFL stars never stop celebrating themselves, Martin does everything to distance himself from his greatness. He's a pro's pro. All you need to do know about Martin is this: It's possible there isn't a player in the National Football League that Bill Parcells is fonder. Parcells brought Martin to New England as a third-round pick, and brought him to the Jets as a free agent. After his last season coaching the Jets, Parcells walked into his office one day and found a gift on his desk. It was the Jets' MVP trophy, the players had voted to Martin.


    It moved Parcells to tears.


    He's one of the lowest maintenance stars in the National Football League, unwilling to ever make people notice of him.


    Unless he's carrying the ball, of course.


    "One of the most humble guys I've ever been around," Edwards said.


    He's going home to Pittsburgh on Sunday for the biggest game in the NFL this week, back to where he grew up playing football in the Western Pennsylvania cold in short sleeves. He was a high school and college star there, and it shaped so much of his persona.


    "I like cold weather because I think it gives me an advantage," Martin once said. "A lot of people don't like to do a lot of things full speed in cold weather. You start worrying about catching the ball because your hands are cold. You start worrying about hitting hard because your back is stiff."


    He should be slowing down now. He's 31 years. He's been running the ball for 10 seasons in the NFL. Only, he gets better. And better. He's going to break his own franchise record for rushing this season, his 1,305 yards closing fast on his record 1,513 yards in 2001. Across the field, Martin will offer a respectful nod to his old friend, Jerome Bettis. On Sunday afternoon, Martin passed his thirtysomething peer by moving into fifth place on the career list with 12,974 yards, and Bettis passed Martin that same night reaching 12,980 yards. Together, they'll pass Eric Dickerson before season's end. The Jets still belong to Martin, the way the Steelers no longer do with Bettis.


    "They bring Duce Staley in there," Edwards said, "and he doesn't make a big deal about it. He wasn't griping about it. He was a pro about it." Something so perfectly Martin happened on Sunday in the Jets' victory over the Texans, when he was running for 134 yards and two touchdowns. It was his boy-wonder quarterback, Chad Pennington. He had come back to the Jets for the first time in a month, and was thrilled with himself for running for a first down on third-and-long late in the game.


    Pennington hopped up to his feet, thrust his right arm forward like an official declaring a first down, and Giants Stadium roared for him. It was completely out of character for Pennington, but ultimately, out of this world as something Martin would ever do on a football field.


    "You want to go out and do that with him," Martin said. Sheepishly, he added, "I would be afraid they would call a penalty on me."


    No, he'll just get his first down, bounce up and hustle back to the huddle. He's a Pittsburgh guy, and they don't make a big fuss about themselves. Biggest game of the season for the Jets, and Curtis Martin is going home on Sunday, to Pittsburgh, where it all started for him running the ball in short sleeves in the driving snow.


    Those kind of guys never have to tell you. They just show you, one carry at a time.

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  2. #2
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    Re: One of the best ever.....

    I think Curtis Martin is one of the most underrated running backs in the game today. I bet if you asked ten people to name some of the best running backs that are currently playing, more than half of them would not list Martin. Meanwhile, he's sixth on the list of career rushing yards.
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  3. #3
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    Re: One of the best ever.....

    C Martin, one of my favorite players in the NFL. My kind of player.

    Steven Jackson, listen up: you have quite a number of outstanding, unforgetable RBs to LEARN from, to learn firstly from their CHARACTER -- Curtis Martin, Walter Payton, Emitt Smith, Barry Sanders, LaDainian Tomlinson, Priest Holmes.

    Marshal Faulk.

  4. #4
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    Re: One of the best ever.....

    I've been having a big debate with a Jets fan at work as to who is the better all time RB - Martin or Faulk. You all know where my loyalties lie.
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    Yodude's Avatar
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    Re: One of the best ever.....

    I've been having a big debate with a Jets fan at work as to who is the better all time RB - Martin or Faulk. You all know where my loyalties lie.
    I think either side of that debate would have very valid points....I just wish Marshall's knees had held up the way Martin's appear to have.
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    Re: One of the best ever.....

    Although Martin will be in the hall of fame I dont think he is comparable to Marshall Faulk. Marshall Faulk has been an MVP and offensive player of the year is 4th on all time td list(more important than yards IMO) and has had a dual 1000 yard season all things martin doesnt have.

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