While media members were anxiously filing into the Houston Ballroom at the Sheraton Dallas on Saturday night for NFL Network’s live broadcast of the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame selections, Curtis Martin, back north, was making his way to the gym.
“Saturday was pretty relaxing,” Martin told Eric Allen of newyorkjets.com when he visited the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this week. “It’s funny. I don’t get the NFL channel on the cable that I have, so I had to go down to the gym, the weightroom actually, to watch it on their television.”
The Jets’ No. 28 made the final 10 in the voting by the 44-member Hall of Fame selection committee but was not chosen to be one of the seven enshrined in Canton in July, but Martin is the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history and believes he has an opportunity to make the Hall in 2012.
“I think I have a good chance but it is tough competition every single year,” Martin said. “It’s definitely the people who are the elite to ever even play the game. This year, I said to the press earlier that I thought that the voters made a good decision on the class that they chose. Marshall [Faulk], Deion [Sanders], Richard Dent, all of them, they deserve to be there, so it was just an honor to be in the top 10 finalists.”
Perhaps the three most qualified new candidates for the Hall next year are former Jets coach Bill Parcells, former Chiefs guard Will Shields and ex-Giants RB Tiki Barber. Other candidates that just missed the cut this year include RB Jerome Bettis and a trio of top wide receivers — Tim Brown, Cris Carter and Andre Reed.
Martin gushed about Parcells, who Martin said would have introduced him at the enshrinement ceremony if he had made the Hall this year.
“Bill Parcells means a lot to me,” Martin said. “I think that my career wouldn’t have been half of what it was if it wasn’t for him. He taught me the ropes. He taught me the mentality to have. He taught me how to be a professional and he also gave me some good tips on just being a human being and a man.”
Martin finished his career with 14,101 yards and 70 touchdowns and also caught passes for 3,329 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Pittsburgh native still shares the NFL record with 1,000 rushing yards in each of the first 10 seasons of his career. Parcells was his head coach for his first two seasons with the Patriots, then in seasons 4-6 with the Jets.
“I look up to him,” Martin said. “He’s one of the first male role models in my life that I had that type of respect for, almost like a father-like respect, and it’s been the same from the day I started playing for the Patriots until today. We still have that close relationship.”
As a result, the two have the chance to enter the Hall in the same class next season. Parcells has become a legend in the coaching circuit, and Martin will be known as one of the most consistent and mentally tough players in Jets and NFL history.
“If Parcells and I hypothetically were to get in there together,” Martin said, “I would be glad that I didn’t make it this year.”
Tags: Bill Parcells, Curtis Martin, Hall of Fame, Jerome Bettis, New England Patriots
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