A good public image for NFL stars is a rare thing these days.
From shootings and strip clubs to drugs and dog fighting, they’re into everything criminal it seems.
That is precisely why a guy like Curtis Martin is such a breath of fresh air.
Martin was an 11-year veteran who spent his first three with New England before he spent the rest with the New York Jets. Martin announced his retirement from the NFL on 26 July.
Martin was regarded as a very civic-minded person. He was involved with a number of community projects in the New York area. The latest is a joint initiative with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reduce homelessness in the city by two-thirds by 2009.
Furthermore, Martin was considered a quiet, humble player. He never tried to get into the spotlight. He never forgot about his humble beginnings growing up in a rough Pittsburgh neighbourhood.
Yet Martin was one of the toughest and most productive running backs of all time. Martin finished his career 4th all-time in career rushing yards with 14, 101 yards. He ranks 3rd in carries with 3,518 and 12th in touchdowns with 90.
He was a workhorse on the field. He was a power runner and never shied away from contact. It’s sad that a knee injury effectively forced Martin to retire when he was known around the league for taking big hits in stride.
Nevertheless, most players and NFL officials have much respect for Martin. In fact, Commissioner Roger Goodell recently said that he felt Martin is a model for all NFL players to aspire to and emulate.
Martin is essentially everything current stars are not. He doesn’t need media attention. He was never caught up on huge endorsement deals. He played the game for the joy and the passion of it not for the money.
For me, Martin is classy because he was a constant professional. He produced and preferred to let his achievements do the talking. He carried the load for his team every game with no complaints.
Compare that to the Chad Johnsons and Terrell Owens of the world, who need all eyes on them for all of their ups and downs.
Hopefully, Martin’s character will be instilled in the generations to come. For that to happen, it’s going to take fans and players to stand up and demand more men of class.