It’s been a busy week for a Green & White icon. Joe Namath has been here and there this week, doing national TV and local radio interviews, jetting from Florida to New York City to Canton, Ohio.
And now we just wanted to take a minute to wish a Happy 70th Birthday, Broadway Joe.
It’s no secret among Jets fans of a certain age that May 31 is Namath’s birthday. Exactly 10 years ago I did a feature in a North Jersey newspaper celebrating Broadway Joe’s 60th birthday. No other media outlets were attuned to that milestone back then. Now it’s a different story as several Websites have dedicated time and words to wishing Joe all the best and musing aloud how it’s possible that this symbol of the Jets, the AFL, rebelliousness and energy and youth and achievement in America of the Sixties has turned 70 on us.
We’re told that many fans of No. 12, who forever proclaimed the Jets No. 1 at the end of their Super Bowl III triumph over the Colts on 1.12.69, are gathering on the Jets’ Facebook page and on Joe’s Facebook page to offer him birthday wishes.
One of those could be Rex Ryan, head coach of the Jets, a first-hand observer of the Jets and Namath back in ’68, and still an admirer.
“The thing I will mention about Joe Namath, not only with the Jets organization but the National Football League, is that he was huge for the popularity of our sport, with, obviously, the Super Bowl III victory — that was great,” Ryan said Thursday. “I’ve always respected and admired Joe Namath, as I’m sure every Jet fan has.”
Hopefully Namath has enough quality time to celebrate his birthday today, but it has been and will be a busy end of the week. As we mentioned, Joe was booked solid with media engagements Thursday, the order of the day being to talk up the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Namath, who appears almost every year at the Canton shrine for the annual enshrinement ceremonies, this year has been beating the drums for the “new” Hall of Fame, with the completion of its two-year, two-phase “Future 50″ expansion and renovation project. He made his way to Canton today to be on hand Saturday for the Hall’s special grand-opening ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Hall of Fame invites fans of Namath’s and of the great game of football to share thoughts, photos and stories on social media by using the hashtag #NewHOF. Click here for more on Namath and the Hall of Fame ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Tags: 70th birthday, Joe Namath, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 20 Comments »
Bill Parcells will be dressed to the nines tonight as he waves and smiles at the Superdome crowd and NFL Nation during his introduced along with his Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013 mates. He’ll look every bit like your favorite football uncle or professor, friendly and knowledgeable and ready to help out.
And just think that before Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Melchiorri and Anne Burrell, Parcells already had established his own reality series as the new sheriff from hell — or was it heaven? — for so many pro football players who passed through his neck of the woods.
Parcells was hardly the first rough, tough, son-of-a-gun pro football coach. But he was one of the best at rolling the good cop and the bad cop all into one larger-than-life persona. And that’s one of the reasons he’s in the Hall of Fame tonight.
“The thing about Bill was he kept you on your toes,” Wayne Chrebet, Jets fans’ favorite wideout, reminisced with me late Saturday night about his on-field boss with the Green & White from 1997-99. “You’re walking around the complex and he’s coming down the hallway toward you and you really don’t know what to say. You’re looking down and he’d say, ‘Don’t worry, kid. We’ll get ‘em.’ He’d extend that hand and pick you up. You’re smiling and he’d say, ‘What are you so happy about?’
“He kept you on your toes. He never let you relax. And he always got the best out of you.”
Aaron Glenn, who played corner on Parcells’ Jets those same years and then two more years for the Cowboys, had a similar story to tell.
“He had these mind games he always played on me,” AG said. “He’d say I was too small. He’d say I couldn’t cover the best receivers in the game. I used to think, if he thinks I couldn’t cover those guys, why’d he match me up against those guys in the games? I wanted to show him what I could do.”
Parcells, who I remember more than a few times denying that he played mind games with his players, let alone us reporters, had a number of favorite tactics to get through to “his guys” as well as the guys who were his for the moment on whatever team he was resurrecting.
“I remember as a rookie,” Curtis Martin recalled of the roots of his trademark ball security, “I fumbled the ball a couple of times in training camp and Bill made me carry that ball for, like, a week straight. I wasn’t allowed to be caught without the ball. When I was eating lunch or dinner or in meetings, I had the ball in one hand. He told the entire team to knock it out of my hands whenever they saw me. I was penalized if they were able to knock it out. That attention made me focus on the ball. It was a huge part of my game, to the level that giving up the ball was letting my team down.”
There was the time, Chrebet recalled, dusting off a classic Parcells-ism, that he told No. 80, “Hey, Chrebet, your career’s going over a cliff like a dumptruck with a cement parachute.” There was that other time, early in ’98, when Wayne suffered a bad ankle sprain going out of bounds and jumping rope with the chain crew on the sideline. And a week later Bill came by to check on Wayne as he was rehabbing the injury — by kicking him in the ankle.
“It hurt enough without him kicking it,” Chrebet said, “I looked at him like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. What’s wrong with you?’ But even at the moment, I couldn’t be mad at him. He was just making sure I was really hurt.”
He wasn’t mad, but he got some classic Tuna payback late in the ’98 season as the Jets headed for the playoffs and their highest points of the Parcells regime.
“My family was Jets fans, of course, but they were diehard Giants fans,” Chrebet reminisced one more time for me. “It was ’86. I would’ve been 13 years old. And I’m watching and thinking it’s the coolest thing in the world when Harry Carson’s got on the yellow jacket and he sneaks up behind Parcells and dumps the Gatorade on him. I said I want to do that, and I want to do it to Bill, too. It was a pipe dream at the time.”
Then as events sometimes unfold, Chrebet got his chance. He doesn’t remember which game it was (maybe the win over New England in the regular-season finale?), but he was on the sideline late in the game and he said the thought struck him: “I’m gonna get this guy for all the stuff he gave me all year. I’m gonna douse this guy with Gatorade.”
“And he laughed. He took it. He wasn’t upset. He loved every part of it,” Chrebet said, no doubt looking at the Parcells-autographed photo of the prank hanging on the wall of his den. “He was just part of the team. He was right in our circle. He brought us all together.”
There were lots of other elements to the Parcells persona, naturally: Bill’s fierce, feisty competitiveness, his cadre of selfless assistants who implemented his one-voice philosophy, his attention to all the details in all the meeting rooms.
It all came together to produce wonderful results. Teams that hadn’t been winning started winning again. The Giants, Patriots, Jets, Cowboys, even the Dolphins whom he finished up with as team president, did better than they had been once he arrived.
And most of the players, especially “Bill’s Guys,” all sounded variations on the theme of what he meant to them.
Martin, as he was approaching his Hall enshrinement last year: “I know I wouldn’t be in this position I’m in had I not listened to him.”
Glenn: “He once told me, ‘I challenged you. I knew what you had and I wanted to get the best out of you.’ That’s something he can do with any player at any level.”
Giants great Lawrence Taylor to ESPNNewYork.com on Saturday: “If I’d played for another coach on another team, I probably would’ve been a good player. But Bill was the one who made me LT.”
“Somebody told me that if Bill doesn’t mess with you, you’re in trouble,” Chrebet said. “He messed with me a lot. We were both Jersey guys and he busted my chops. The good thing was you could fire back at him a little bit, but you knew your limits. But I wanted to coached, Bill knew everything that was going on, and everybody bought into it. This guy came in and I’m like, ‘I’m glad you’re here. I’m ready to win.’ “
For these reasons and many others, we’ll get to see Bill Parcells holding forth one more time from the field on Super Bowl Sunday.
Tags: Aaron Glenn, Bill Parcells, Curtis Martin, Lawrence Taylor, New Orleans, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Superdome, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Randy Lange | 243 Comments »
It’s time for the NFL to sit back in NOLA, take a deep breath, and put its party pants on for tonight and tomorrow in advance of Sunday night’s Super Bowl. The Harbaughs conducted their I-Concur news conference this morning, Commissioner Goodell’s wrapped up his annual state-of-the-league Q&A, and there’s not much else of an official nature to do down by the banks of the Mississippi except to laissez les bon temps rouler.
Except for some serious work of 46 individuals who will be virtually locked in a New Orleans meeting room for eight hours beginning Saturday morning.
Those 46 are the members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee who will choose this year’s Class of ’13 for entrance into football’s shrine. Before them tomorrow morning along with their French roast coffee and beignets will be the list of 17 HOF final candidates, which they will proceed to prune away to no fewer than four and no more than seven members of this year’s class.
And the name on the list that most Jets fans will be keenly interested in is that of Bill Parcells.
Certainly it’s the top name on the list made by Curtis Martin, who made the Hall last year and was presented for enshrinement by Parcells in Canton last August.
“Bill’s more than deserving,” Martin told me from his Florida home this afternoon. “I’m not one of those guys that will look back and say he should’ve been in last year or whatever. At the end of the day it is what it is. But I’m really hoping and I do believe that he’ll make it this year, and I’m really looking forward to going back out there to Canton and celebrating it with him.”
Parcells was a finalist along with Martin a year ago, but unlike his superb running back, the Tuna couldn’t swim upstream from the final 10 candidates into the final five. In less than a day he’ll try to make that climb again.
Another who thinks he’ll do it is Gary Myers, the Daily News columnist and Selection Committee member who was the point man in guiding Martin’s candidacy to fruition last year and this year will also be making the Parcells presentation to the committee.
“Bill’s impact on the game, I believe, makes his a very strong case,” Myers said in his piece in the News this morning. “If Parcells isn’t a Hall of Famer, then just who is?”
Much of Myers’ presentation and the discussion “in the room” will no doubt deal with Parcells’ credentials with the Giants, who won two Super Bowls under his command, and his Patriots, who made one Super appearance. But his four-year stop with the Jets, from 1997-99 as head coach and in 2000 running the football operations, will also factor into the discussion.
Parcells arrived in ’97 and turned the Jets around from their 4-28 record of the previous two seasons into a winning team that was in the playoff hunt until their 13-10 loss at Detroit in the final game of the regular season. In ’98 he directed them all the way to a 10-0 lead early in the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game before their season came to an end at Denver. Injuries crushed the start of the ’99 season, but by the end of the year the Jets were the proverbial team nobody would’ve wanted to face if they had made the playoffs. The 2000 season was filled with promise until a disastrous December downturn.
And then Bill was gone. The one playoff berth and title-game appearance wasn’t what Parcells or anyone else in Jets Nation wanted, and yet he was the first coach in franchise history to produce 30 wins in a three-year span, the first to preside over 40 wins in a four-year span. The Jets were the third of the four franchises he guided to playoff berths, an NFL coaching record. He brought the Green & White back to relevancy as in the last 16 years the Jets have made seven playoff appearances and posted 10 winning seasons, as good as or better than the totals in those two categories over the franchise’s previous 37 seasons.
Of course there are no guarantees. The dynamics that last year kept Parcells out in his third time as a Hall finalist could repeat. A new field of well-qualified finalists could freeze Bill out of the final-five again.
But this year just feels like it’s “temps” that BP “roule.” As Myers said, if not Parcells, who? As Martin told me, “I can’t imagine Bill not being in the Hall of Fame two years in a row. Last year was kind of hard to believe. This year would be incredibly hard to understand.”
The Selection Committee members know that as well. Sometime shortly after 5:30 p.m. ET tomorrow, I suspect that Parcells will begin his ascension into the pigskin pantheon.
We’ll have a follow-up story on Bill Parcells’ Hall of Fame candidacy Saturday night/Sunday morning.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Curtis Martin, Gary Myers, Pro Football Hall of Fame
Posted in Randy Lange | 102 Comments »
It’s Pro Football Hall of Fame time again, and that means Bill Parcells again is in play to be inducted into the Canton shrine.
The Hall of Fame this morning announced the 15 modern-era finalists who will be considered for election into the Hall when the selection committee meets in New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 2, the day before Super Bowl XLVII.
This is Parcells’ fourth time as a finalist, meaning final 15, and in this case it may well be that the third time plus one is the charm for the Tuna. Last year he made it to the final 10 during the day-long balloting process but did not advance to the final five, as did Curtis Martin, who was then selected for the Hall a year ago in his second year of eligibility.
Here is the Hall’s list of finalists, which includes the two senior nominees, DT Curley Culp and LB Dave Robinson, announced in August. (Four first-time nominees designated with an (f), two senior committee nominees with an asterisk):
Larry Allen (f) — G/T, 1994-2005 Dallas Cowboys; 2006-07 San Francisco 49ers
Jerome Bettis — RB, 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams; 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
Tim Brown — WR/KR/PR, 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders; 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cris Carter — WR, 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles; 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings; 2002 Miami Dolphins
Curley Culp* — DT, 1968-74 Kansas City Chiefs; 1974-80 Houston Oilers; 1980-81 Detroit Lions
Edward DeBartolo Jr. — Owner, 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers
Kevin Greene — LB/DE, 1985-92 Los Angeles Rams; 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers; 1996, ’98-99 Carolina Panthers; 1997 San Francisco 49ers
Charles Haley — DE/LB, 1986-91, ’99 San Francisco 49ers; 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
Art Modell — Owner, 1961-95 Cleveland Browns; 1996-2011 Baltimore Ravens
Jonathan Ogden (f) — T, 1996-2007 Baltimore Ravens
Bill Parcells — Coach, 1983-90 New York Giants; 1993-96 New England Patriots; 1997-99 New York Jets; 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys
Andre Reed — WR, 1985-99 Buffalo Bills; 2000 Washington Redskins
Dave Robinson* — LB, 1963-72 Green Bay Packers; 1973-74 Washington Redskins
Warren Sapp (f) — DT, 1995-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2004-07 Oakland Raiders
Will Shields — G, 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
Michael Strahan (f) — DE, 1993-2007 New York Giants
Aeneas Williams — CB/S, 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals; 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
All Hall of Fame candidates must go through a winnowing process that this year began with 127 nominees, then was reduced to 27 semifinalists. To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.
Bob Sutton Departing?
The Kansas City Star is reporting today that longtime Jets assistant coach Bob Sutton has been hired by new Chiefs coach Andy Reid as the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator. The Jets have not commented on Sutton’s reported departure and the Chiefs have not announced anything regarding the hiring of coordinators yet.
Sutton, the former Army head coach, was with the Jets the past 13 seasons, 10 as linebackers coach and from 2006-08 as Eric Mangini’s defensive coordinator.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Bob Sutton, Curtis Martin, Pro Football Hall of Fame
Posted in Randy Lange | 218 Comments »
Curtis Martin followed up his emotional news conference before the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Gold Jacket Dinner on Friday night with a bravura performance running the anchor leg among the six members of the Class of ’12 at Saturday night’s enshrinement ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
“This is God’s honest truth,” Martin said as the sixth and final member of the class to speak and to receive his bust at Fawcett Stadium. “I came up here, I had a chance to spend time with the older guys and the guys who have been inducted. I had a chance to listen to their experience. On Friday morning, we went and listened to Ralph Wilson speak. Just the passion that he has for this game, being one of the founders, one of the founding fathers of this game, there was something that rubbed off on me. And literally yesterday I felt like it was my first day as a fan of the game of football.”
Martin spoke the longest of the six enshrinees but none of the 12,100 in the stadium noticed the extra minutes passing because he timelessly captured the moment in typical Curtis fashion. He broke the huddle with an anecdote from the weekend on huge tackle Willie Roaf. He darted into how he got into football “for a purpose that was bigger than the game itself, because I knew that the love for the game just wasn’t in my heart.”
He cut back as smoothly as ever into soul-baring personal stories about growing up on the mean streets of Pittsburgh and his special relationship with his mother, Rochella, that left him again teary-eyed, and all of the thousands in the stadium silently weeping along with him.
And he strode toward his goal line this night with another anecdote about getting hit so hard in a game against Oakland that he saw black, and kept seeing black as he tried to walk it off, until he realized he was in the Raiders’ defensive huddle.
“I was asked earlier this week if I would allow my child to play football,” he said. “I said, well, football’s getting bigger, stronger, faster and tougher. I don’t know. I would probably be reluctant. But if my kid can learn what I learned from this game, I’d let him play. I think it’s worth the risk.”
Bill Parcells, Curt’s coach with the Patriots in 1995-96 and with the Jets in 1998-99, presented Martin to the gathered fans after helping him slip on his gold jacket at the dinner in the Canton Memorial Civic Center the night before.
”Curtis has tremendous compassion for his fellow man,” Parcells said. ”He is, I think, the poster child for what the NFL is supposed to be. You come into the league, maximize your abilities, you save your money, you make a smooth transition into society, and then you pass all those things on to other people. That’s what this guy has done.”
The Jets were represented at the ceremony by a strong contingent at the ceremony, led by owner Woody Johnson, president Neil Glat and GM Mike Tannenbaum, who helped orchestrate the restricted free agency offer sheet with Parcells that brought Martin from New England to the Jets in 1998. A number of current and former players were there also. I don’t have a complete list but I know Joe Namath was there, as were Kevin Mawae, Pete Kendall and current starting RG Brandon Moore. Eric Allen, Rich Gentile and the multimedia crew were also there, and we’ll have video of events from the weekend up on the Website shortly.
Some Curtis Memories
I couldn’t stay in Canton for Saturday’s festivities, but I knew I at least had to be on hand Friday to honor him. I don’t have any touchingly emotional stories, just small, telling glimpses about covering Martin for the Jets from 1998 through his glorious 2004 season and into 2006, when he tried and tried to get his body ready to play but knew his career was over.
There was the one training camp day at the Netherlands dining hall on the Hofstra campus, when this one beatwriter among many, covering the team for a smaller North Jersey newspaper, asked Martin on the way in to lunch if he had time to talk for a story. He said yes, but then he didn’t show, having taken the side door up to his dorm, no doubt for a nap before the afternoon practice. I accepted being stood up by a big-name player, no big deal, happened before.
Then as I was about to head back for the pressroom, Martin showed up and asked, “I forgot that I was going to talk with you. Do you still need me?” I sensed then the special qualities of No. 28.
He confided in me when he didn’t have to, for stories about goals for the season and playing in the pain that was his constant companion, although no one ever really knew because he never complained and never missed a game. I tried to get him to complain just a little about the way some reporters were willing to write him off one Jets season after a bad start due to some nearly crippling injuries.
“I probably would have written that I stunk, too,” he said.
And he had and continues to have a way with words. Like all other people in the media fishbowl, he revisits timeworn themes and familiar anecdotes during his interviews. But in the locker room day after day, he was never like the comedian on the road who recycles the same routine night after night. Curtis always looked in the questioner’s eyes and had a new word or two, a new phrase that resonated, a new way to make a particular point to reporters and the fans.
Such as Friday at his news conference. He spent perhaps a half-hour answering questions from all of us in the New York Jets media contingent as if he’d never heard them before. He gave details of the murder of his grandmother that he said he’d never detailed for a large interview session before. I’d never been up close to anyone who had bared his soul like that, and I was choked with emotion myself in trying to sum up the story to another reporter a few minutes later.
Being the New York Jets rep at this news conference, I had to ask Curtis about the recent announcement that the Jets will be retiring his uniform number on opening day, Sept. 9, at MetLife Stadium. It’s an honor that’s certainly not on the Canton level, yet I thought Martin might want to speak specifically about the Jets. And he did.
“New York has been the best time of my life,” he said. “I’ve appreciated both organizations that I have played for, but I’ve been at the Jets longer than I was at New England, three times as long as I was at New England. So between the city, the fans, the media and the team, the impact it’s had on my life, and now to be honored with Woody and the Jets deciding to retire my number, next to the Hall of Fame, I don’t know what would be bigger than that.”
Bravo one more time, Curtis. And we’ll see you again in September.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Canton, Curtis Martin, Fawcett Stadium, Mike Tannenbaum, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Rochella Martin, Woody Johnson
Posted in Randy Lange | 8 Comments »
In just two months, Curtis Martin will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And before he makes that trip to Canton, we’ll talk to the legendary running back at the Jets Partner Summit on Thursday, June 7, and Jets Nation can tune in live to our exclusive show at 8:30 a.m.
“Curtis Martin: Countdown to Canton” will also be archived and available for view throughout the weekend and beyond if you can’t join us live.
Martin, who is the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history with 14,101 yards, rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 seasons. That feat equaled an NFL record set by Barry Sanders for most 1,000-yard seasons to start a career.
On Aug. 4, Martin will become the 29th modern-era RB to join the Hall. Always a fan favorite, the humble Martin set a number of franchise records, including most rushing yards (10,302), most yards from scrimmage (12,741), most 1,000-yard rush seasons (7), most rush TDs (58) and most receptions by a RB (367).
If you have a question or comment for Curtis, please write us now on Facebook.com/Jets, on twitter @nyjets or right here with a comment to the Radar on newyorkjets.com. We will get to a couple of the questions during our visit. So remember to tune in to “Curtis Martin: Countdown to Canton” on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. or catch the archived show here on the site.
Tags: Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Pro Football Hall of Fame
Posted in Eric Allen | 29 Comments »
It’s not exactly a news flash since we saw it coming down Paterson Plank Road months — make that years — ago, but Jets great Curtis Martin has confirmed that he has chosen former Jets coach Bill Parcells to be his presenter at his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 4.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” Martin told the Canton Repository on Monday at the Hall of Fame, where he was making one of his pre-induction visits to meet with the Hall’s staff and get the Canton lay of the land. “You never know how life works. Maybe someone else would have been placed in my life to take the place of Parcells, but I think there’s only one of him. I just don’t see someone else having that type of impact on me.”
Back when we met with Curtis in his Indianapolis hotel room the day of the Super Bowl and of his introduction as a member of the Class of ’12, he showed the depth of his feeling for Parcells when he talked about his getting into the Hall and Parcells, also a final-10 HOF candidate in February, not making it in his third try.
“This year, the more emotional part for me was the fact that Bill didn’t get in with me,” Curtis said. “I’d rather he’d be going in without me. I think what he’s accomplished in this game is phenomenal. It was bittersweet for me.”
The night before, Martin telegraphed to NFL Network’s Fran Charles that Parcells would be his choice as presenter.
“I think it’s a simple decision,” he said then. “I’m definitely not even close to being in this position — I don’t think I’d have played more than four or five years — without Bill Parcells as my mentor.”
Tags: Bill Parcells, Canton Repository, Curtis Martin, Pro Football Hall of Fame
Posted in Randy Lange | 164 Comments »
Yes, it was a rough Super Bowl as advertised for Jets fans, but the one shining green moment was when Curtis Martin and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012 was introduced to the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd before the coin toss.
The NFL did a nice job, introducing alphabetically but moving Martin to last. He got the loudest ovation from the fans, a good percentage of which were Patriots supports, of course. But football fans of all stripes could cheer Martin, who along with Chris Doleman are the big names and star power of this six-man class.
Curtis, despite admitting that “my mind is racing today,” invited me and team photographer Al Pereira to come up and chat with him in his Indy hotel room before he began his Super Bowl day duties. As always he was gracious and thoughtful as he touched again on some of the themes he had touched on last year in his first pass at the Hall and again Saturday night in a conference call with Jets reporters while expanding on others.
“It’s been such a humbling experience for me,” Curtis said, still looking muscular and ready as ever as he sat in the comfy chair in his room. “You never set out — I never set out — to accomplish this. Talking about a Hall of Fame class, only elite players are invited into the Hall of Fame. Last year, Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk, they deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. They just have that elite level. I feel I made the most of the talent I had. With those guys, I didn’t feel snubbed.
“This year, the more emotional part for me was the fact that Bill didn’t get in with me. I’d rather he’d be going in without me. I think what he’s accomplished in this game is phenomenal. It was bittersweet for me.”
He said even as of Sunday afternoon he had not talked to Parcells, who made the round of 10 finalists but was not selected Saturday, about presenting him at the Aug. 4 induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio.
“But he and I are close. I was thinking of trying to figure out how they would do it if he was an inductee and a presenter in the same year,” Martin said.
Parcells does figure to get in some day. Would Martin present him to the Hall that year? “Bill has a lot of people he knows that he could ask,” he said, “but if he were to ask me, I’d definitely do it.”
Martin said there was a “foreign feeling” to the day and to winning this award that he said “was never my goal.” Part of the surrealness is coming today when he is scheduled to get measured for his Hall of Fame jacket and also to get the first measurements taken for his Canton bust.
Curtis, Carolina (pronounced Caroleena) and perhaps even their new addition, daughter Ava Carolina, will make the trip with Martin’s admirers to Canton in August and check out the new bust, alongside, no doubt, his iconic No 28 green jersey. I was sure he had explained his chosen number at some time in the past but I didn’t remember ever asking him about it. Sure enough, there was a Biblical slant to the number he wore virtually every day of his pro career.
“Before getting drafted, I was talking to my pastor, Leroy Joseph,” he recalled. “I told him I wasn’t really sure about playing pro football. He said, ‘Maybe football is a vehicle for you to reach out to people the way you say you want to do.’ Then one day I was speaking to him my rookie year in New England. I think I was wearing No. 39 at the time. He asked me what number I had. The Patriots said I’d be able to get 28 or 26 after a while. He said ‘Deuteronomy 28!’
“It’s a scripture that I would read a lot throughout my career. It says if you obey God, here’s how your life will be blessed, and how you’ll be blessed coming in and blessed going out.”
Curtis’ religion must be mentioned in this stream-of-bloggyness. It’s a vital part of who he is. It helped get him through the considerable pain he often played in until he couldn’t play through it anymore in 2005-06. It led him to put away 15 percent of every paycheck he made as a pro tailback to completely fund his charity work.
And it still plays a role in his future plans of NFL ownership, which he said are still quite alive.
“I’ve learned to become more patient and I’ve gotten a lot wiser since I retired,” he said. “It was my idea to line my ducks up in a row and when the opportunity arose I could execute it. I had two opportunities. One I thought we were going to close on but there were some points at the end that we just couldn’t agree on so I passed on it. It came back around a year later and I totally (passed on it).
“But it’s still alive and I’m still looking at it.”
I asked Curt if he might consider buying into another pro sport.
“It wouldn’t have to be the NFL but I want it to be the NFL,” he said. “I want to bring what I’ve learned from the ground up, from a rookie being hazed to an owner. There’s a lot to travel between those two points and I want to bring that to an organization. I can’t do the same thing with baseball or with basketball.”
One last topic we touched on was the current state of the Jets.
“I think it’s obvious it’s not ideal right now. There are some changes, some things they have to do to turn it around,” he offered. “I do know that a lot of people give Rex a lot of flak for talking. For me, I champion that, I see what that does. A coach sticks his neck out, jeopardizes his name and his wellbeing — as a player, that really does something for you. It worked for the Jets for two years, it didn’t work for one year. That’s the way he motivates. So be it.”
He reminded that, more than six years (!) after he last played an NFL down, he doesn’t pay close attention to the game now.
“The Jets are usually the only team I really watch. I know it sounds kind of fictitious for me to be saying I don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “But I’ve heard about Sanchez and Santonio Holmes. They’ll fix that. That’s not a huge problem. That’s not something that’s unfixable.”
And with that, Al and I thanked Curtis Martin one more time for his time, congratulated him one more time for his special day ahead, to be followed by many more special days as a member of pro football’s pantheon. When we got out of the elevators, as luck would have it (as well as this being the NFL’s Super Bowl headquarters), Doleman and Hall of Fame official Joe Horrigan and their wives were chatting. Did they have any thoughts on Martin reaching the Hall?
“He’s a Pitt guy, man,” Doleman said smiling. “He did play against me. It wasn’t that often. But Curtis was a great player and what I always loved about him is he was humble, he did his job, he wasn’t a guy that was bigger than the team. He embodied professional football.”
“Everyone who’s ever touched him or been touched by him says the same thing,” said Horrigan, “that he’s a great player and a great person.”
That says it all.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Curtis Martin, Mark Sanchez, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes
Posted in Randy Lange | 201 Comments »
It’s been a tough few days walking through and working in Indianapolis. All teams are represented at the NFL’s annual Super Bowl convention, but the two main teams, the Giants and Patriots, are front and center of course.
And Jets green is quite muted. Head coach Rex Ryan made an appearance along with uber-fan Adam Sandler as the two promoted the movie “That’s My Boy” that Sandler stars in and Rex appears in as a lawyer and Patriots fan, due out in June. Sandler was even seen in a Jets T-shirt on “NBC Sportstalk” grumbling over the fact that his chosen team didn’t make the Indy scene. Dustin Keller, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Plaxico Burress and Tony Richardson popped up around town. A few fans in Jets garb can be seen forlornly passing along Market, Meridian and Capitol streets.
But tonight could be a good night for the Jets, at least from a historical perspective. This is the night that Curtis Martin and Bill Parcells could be selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Martin is one of the best, most consistent running backs the game has ever known. His many achievements, topped by his fourth-best NFL total of 14,101 rushing yards, lead us to that conclusion. Parcells will always be known as a Giant but his four-year stop with the Jets, three as their head coach, was pivotal in lifting the franchise up from its mid-Nineties doldrums.
Their odds look good even though, just as in the game on the field, there are no guarantees in “The Room.” That’s where Martin’s and Parcells’ fates for this year are being decided right now. The 44 Selection Committee members are currently debating the pluses and minuses of each of the 15 modern-era finalists (plus two seniors committee candidates) in a meeting room at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, the media center for Super Bowl XLVI.
Those 15 modern-era finalists will be trimmed to 10, then to five. Then each member of the selection committee votes yes or no for each of the five. A minimum of 80 percent of the vote gets a finalist selected for induction into the Class of 2012.
The process will conclude sometime this afternoon. Then the new class of from four to seven enshrinees will be unveiled on NFL Network’s special show, “Road to Canton: Pro Football Hall of Fame: Class of 2012,” beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Neither Martin nor Parcells is expected to be in Indianapolis tonight, but if selected, both are expected to fly into town for presentation in the events before the opening kickoff of SBXLVI a little after 6:30 tomorrow night.
We’ll be there to give you the news tonight from Indianapolis. And if Curtis and Bill are selected, we’ll bring you a little of their thoughts and reactions behind the scenes at the Super Bowl venue.
And if one or both are chosen and then if the Jets are selected by the NFL to be one of the teams to play in this year’s Hall of Fame Game (not a certainty, although the Jets are due to play in the game since their last appearance came in 1992), that would make for a great Hall of Fame weekend on Aug. 4-5 in Canton, Ohio, not to mention a great way for the Jets to kick off their 2012 season.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Canton, Curtis Martin, Indianapolis, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Super Bowl XLVI
Posted in Randy Lange | 75 Comments »
The Jets will not be at the Super Bowl. Of this we are all painfully aware. But one former Jet is about two weeks away from being talked up at the Super venue in Indianapolis. And on Feb. 4, Curtis Martin will find out if he’ll be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his second year as a Hall finalist.
We’re trying to help “Rush Curt to Canton.” Fans can go to curttocanton.com to support Martin’s run to the Hall of Fame. On this microsite, fans have the opportunity to watch Curtis’ highlight video and show their support via Twitter and Facebook. Once they become supporters, fans can tweet out to their followers: “I support Curtis Martin’s rush to the NFL HOF! Do you? http://bit.ly/Curt2Canton #CurtToCanton” or share the message on their Facebook feeds.
Another Hall for Schroy
Speaking of the Hall, former Jets safety Ken Schroy is gaining entry to another fame-ous organization. He’ll be inducted into the Lehigh Valley (Pa.) Sports Hall of Fame at an induction dinner April 21 at the Northampton Memorial Community Center. Kenny starred at Quakertown High before moving on to Maryland and then to the Jets from 1977-84.
Of note is that a fellow member of Schroy’s LVSHOF Class of ’12 is Chuck Bednarik, “the last of the 60-minute men” from Bethlehem, Pa., Penn and the Eagles.
For Schroy, this is the second Hall of Fame we’re aware of that has him as a member. In 2008 the transplanted Long Islander and vice president of the Marty Lyons Foundation was inducted into the Suffolk (N.Y.) Sports Hall of Fame. What he told us then applies just as much four years later: “At my age now, any recognition is a wonderful thing.”
Tags: Curtis Martin, Ken Schroy, Pro Football Hall of Fame
Posted in Randy Lange | 80 Comments »