Curtis Martin is eligible for the 2011 Hall of Fame class. How good was Martin? His impact was felt immediately in the NFL.
In his first three seasons with the Patriots, Martin averaged 1,266 yards rushing and nearly 11 rushing touchdowns per season. Martin started his career with back-to-back seasons of 14 rushing touchdowns before scoring only four touchdowns in his third season.
Martin was a durable running back in his NFL career. He played in 168 (166 starts) of a possible 176 games. Martin’s consistency led the Jets to the playoffs in four of his eight seasons with the team. Martin rushed for 1,000 or more yards in 10 of his 11 NFL seasons. Martin rushed for 735 yards in 12 games during his final season (2005). His most dominating season was the 2004 season, in which he rushed for an NFL-leading 1,697 yards on 371 carries. He is the Jets’ all-time leading rusher with 10,302 yards.
Martin was elected to five Pro Bowls and was a 2004 All-Pro. He currently ranks third in career rushing attempts, fourth in rushing yards, seventh in yards from scrimmage (17,430) and 12th in rushing touchdowns (90).
As if his rushing accolades weren’t impressive enough, he was also a more efficient quarterback than Ryan Leaf. Martin retired with 2/2 passing, 36 yards and two passing touchdowns. Both passes were 18-yard touchdowns (2000 and 2001 seasons). Martin’s career passer rating is 158.3 (perfect rating).
When observing Martin’s stats, there is one number in particular that I found impressive and is often overlooked: fumbles. In 3,518 carries and 484 receptions, Martin has only fumbled 29 times! Current superstar Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings has already fumbled 20 times in his young career.
While Martin might not command the recognition a Barry Sanders, Emmit Smith or Walter Payton do, his numbers show that he had one of the better careers for an NFL running back and is worthy of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.