On Saturday, February 5, 2011, the NFL will announce their five newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and one of these prospective players that are eagerly anticipating the decision is a running back by the name of Curtis Martin. Yet, depending if he is voted in or not, the main question for all football fans is should he be enshrined as a New England Patriot or New York Jet?
This particular question is a challenging one, especially since he did reach the Super Bowl as a member of the Patriots, but did not win a single championship with the Jets. So, obviously the answer should be as a Patriot, right?
Lets consider all angles of this question and come up with an answer!
The Patriots Argument: As a three-year member of the New England Patriots from 1995-1997, Martin recorded 3,799 rushing yards, 32 touchdowns and averaged 84.4 yards per game, which is quite impressive. He currently ranks fourth amongst all time Patriots rushers in their franchise history and had he remained in Massachusetts for the final years of his career, he most likely would have passed Sam Cunningham (5,453 rushing yards).
As a rookie running back in ’95, Martin won the attention of the league and his team, as well as earned the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. He tallied 1,487 yards from the line of scrimmage and rushed for 14 touchdowns, but besides his successful first year in the league, the Patriots finished [6-10] and fourth in the AFC East.
Martin was an important asset of Bill Parcells’s offense and was a key factor during the teams ‘96 run toward Super Bowl XXXI. During that particular year, Martin rushed for 1,152 yards and 14 touchdowns, but against Green Bay’s defense during the “big game,” he was held to 42-yards on the ground and one touchdown, which wasn’t enough, as the Packers beat the Patriots, 35-21.
Martin’s final year with the season wouldn’t be anything to exciting because the Patriots were unable to return to the Super Bowl. In fact, after Parcells left New England, it was an almost immediate that the two would reunite eventually.
Overall, Martin could clearly be considered one of the better running backs to have put on a Patriot uniform and ever since his departure from the club; New England has yet to replace him or his talents. Although, the Patriots have been able to win three Super Bowls without him in the locker room or on the field, but had he remained with the squad instead of departing for the Jets after the ’97 season and paired with Tom Brady, most likely, he and the organization would have had another Super Bowl trophy on display at the Patriots Hall of Fame.
The Jets Argument: Martin started and played in 123 regular season and playoff games, which obviously was much more compared to 45 with the Patriots. Although, one of the downsides to playing with the Jets was that he never returned to the Super Bowl, but he did come close, especially in ’98 against John Elway and the Denver Broncos.
With the Jets, Martin rushed for 10,302 yards and 58-touchdowns, as well as averaged 4.0 yards per carry. He even became a major factor in the passing game by catching 367 passes for 2,439 yards and five touchdowns. He won awards too during the ’01 and ’04 season, but what exactly did that accomplish? He didn’t even win a Super Bowl, but was at least acknowledged by his on the field milestones and accomplishments.
It could be believed that the reason Martin experienced great success during the regular season is because the Jets offensive line provided the running lanes that were necessary for his success, but does that really help when answering the question provided above? The Jets were clearly a team that utilized the running game to the extreme, especially against the Patriots.
He is a clear lock to enter the Hall of Fame as a Jet because he remains currently the franchises leading rusher and he will remain atop the list with other greats, which include quarterback Joe Namath and wide receiver Don Maynard.
Conclusion: All in all, it may seem like a toss up, but the undeniable answer is that Martin will enter the hall as a New York Jet. Sure, he piled up a lot of yards as a member of “Gang Green,” but also, he spent primarily his career with New York. He was a major offensive factor and blossomed into the running back that every NFL fan will always remember.
Indeed, he was probably one of the greatest athletes or stars to leave Boston for Broadway, but due to his limited amount of time with the Patriots, it just seems that he is remembered more as a Jet. So, our overall decision is that Curtin Martin will enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the New York Jets.