Finally it's April! As we get ready for the NFL Draft later this month, let’s look at a former Jet great that the team did not actually draft. He was drafted by our hated rivals, the New England Patriots!
Curtis Martin attended the University of Pittsburgh and was drafted in the Third Round of the 1995 NFL Draft. He played three seasons for the Patriots, being named to two Pro Bowls teams. After helping them make the playoffs in 1997, where they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Wild Card game, he chose to enter the free agency market. Quickly, our New York Jets touched base with Curtis’s agent and set up a contract that would be very difficult for the Patriots to match. This opened the door for Curtis to join the Jets and his former coach, Bill Parcells. In his first seven seasons with the Jets, Martin missed only one game and was selected to the Pro Bowl three times.
In 1998, Curtis gained 182 total yards and scored two touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a great Jets playoff win. While in 2004, Martin rushed for a season-high 196 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Jets home opener and would rush for over 100 yards, in an additional eight games that season, to finish with 1,697 total rushing yards. Martin would go on to win the NFL rushing title by one yard over Shaun Alexander and became the oldest player, at age 31, in NFL history to win this prestigious title. Martin was named the FedEx Ground Player of the Year, an All-Pro, and was elected to his fifth and final Pro Bowl. He would play one more season with the Jets in 2005 and then retire.
Since leaving the playing field, Curtis has continued to raise money through his foundation and has hopes to become an owner of a team in the future. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Jets have retired his number 28. No one can look at the Jets and their former running backs without putting Curtis near or at the top of the list. He didn’t start his amazing career with us, but he will always be, without a doubt, a New York Jet, and us fans are better for that.
Image Credit: NYDailyNews.com, AP