Curtis Martin’s mother helped drive him to the Hall of Fame

Kristian Dyer
February 5, 2012

Among the Curtis Martin's many accomplishments during his 11-year NFL career, dating singer Toni Braxton remains among the greatest feats on the running back's resume. But on Saturday evening, Martin was honored for what he did playing on the field and not just playing the field when he was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The running back, who finished with 14,101 rushing yards and 100 all-purpose touchdowns, spent three years with the New England Patriots and the remainder of his career in New York with the Jets.

[Related: Curtis Martin headlines 2012 NFL Hall of Fame class]

Flanking Martin will be fellow selectees Dermonti Dawson, Chris Doleman , Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf and senior selection Jack Butler, all of whom will take their place in Canton this August to be inducted for their outstanding careers. On the ballot last year but failing to get the necessary votes, Martin is fourth on the all-time rushing list and in 2004 became the oldest player to win an NFL rushing title. The year before he won the rushing title, Martin had just two rushing touchdowns and there was talk of him being over the hill and unable to carry the load as a featured running back.

His 1,697 yards on 371 carries in that season are still both Jets records and perhaps sealed the deal in terms of his Canton candidacy.

"I heard a lot of talk about me being washed up and old, whether or not there were so many miles on the tires and all of that. To be able to come out and feel the way I felt and have the year that I had that year -that was tremendous to me. To actually win a rushing title, if I could say that I had one individual goal as an athlete, as a running back, it was to win the rushing title," Martin said after learning of his induction.

"That meant a lot to me because I felt as though I could do that the following year. Unfortunately, I had that career-ending injury, but I would say the best I ever felt in my career was during the latter part of it."

While Martin's career was cut short the next season due to a knee injury, he was nevertheless a remarkable example of consistency and longevity. From 1999 through 2004, Martin played in every game and only once during his career did his rushing totals drop below 1,000 yards — that coming in his final season when he missed the last four games to the knee injury that would eventually force him to retire.

His dedication to perfection was inspired by his mother, whom he calls his "hero." While attending his NFL games, his mother would get so nervous to the point that she would rarely take her seat and instead watched the game in the concourse on television, nervously walking around and pacing.

Not much has changed since the time when Martin was in pads. Waiting for her son's announcement on Saturday afternoon, Martin's mother was back to her nervous ways again, just like during her son's storied career.

"She would meet me after the game in the tunnel," Martin recalls of his mother's inability to watch him from her seat in the stadium.

"It's funny, even now, six years removed, that hasn't changed. She went in the kitchen and my assistant, Alexandra, took her shoes because my mother was about to walk out in the hall because she was too nervous to watch the Hall of Fame [announcement]."

Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer

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