Woody Johnson congratulating Curtis Martin after the Jets won their 2005 home opener over Miami
Curtis Martin has drawn praise from teammates and coaches alike over the course of his career for his approach to the game of football. Here is a sampling of what people are saying this week about Martin's retirement announcement and what they had to say about the Jets great.
Woody Johnson, New York Jets chairman and CEO:
"Curtis Martin is one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game and his impact on the New York Jets and the National Football League will never be forgotten. While millions of people witnessed his amazing accomplishments on the field, few knew the depths of his philanthropy off the field. His drive to give back, especially to the New York area that became his adopted home, will be his lasting legacy from which all of us can draw inspiration. As a player, Curtis approached philanthropy the same way he approached the game, with humility and grace. Whether helping the homeless on the streets of New York or volunteering at soup kitchens, he touched the lives of countless people who had no connection to the game that made him a household name. On behalf of the New York Jets, we wish Curtis the best in this new chapter in his life and thank him for the lasting contribution he made to our team and our community. He will always be a member of our family."
Terry Bradway, Jets, director of player personnel:
"Curtis epitomized all the special qualities we look for in evaluating players. He is a true professional both on and off the field. His dedication and commitment to the game and his teammates is unmatched."
Jimmy Raye, Jets running backs coach:
"Curtis is the epitome of class, character and work ethic. He is a tremendous, tremendous football player and competitor. He is a true warrior and a winner in football and as well as life."
Jets QB Chad Pennington:
"Curtis Martin is a true professional in every sense of the word. I consider him to be a very good friend and a great mentor. He has been a great teammate and role model and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."
Bill Parcells, Martin's former head coach with the Jets and Patriots:
"He's one of the most inspirational players I have ever seen. I always judge players by their ability to inspire others. I've seen Curtis Martin inspire numerous players and coaches and I was fortunate to be among those he inspired. He's one of the greatest players I have ever coached.
Herman Edwards, former Jets head coach:
"He's probably one of the classiest and most humble players that I've ever been around with his type of statistics and what he's accomplished in the league. He never really got credit for the player that he is. You don't appreciate him as much until you've been around him and you watch how he practiced, watch how he prepared and watched how he played the game. When Curtis Martin stepped on the field, you knew one thing- whatever he had in his heart or in his body, he was going to give."
Charlie Weis, Notre Dame head coach and former Jets offensive coordinator:
"Curtis Martin is one of the finest young men I have ever met. Not only was he a great running back, he is an even better person. He exemplified championship character on and off the field. He leaves the game a winner."
WR Keyshawn Johnson, former Jets teammate:
"In my opinion, he's one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game, surely the best running back that I've ever played with."
Sam Madison, Giants cornerback:
"For years, Curtis Martin has quietly been one of the top backs in this league. It has been an honor to play against him so many times because he has always been a great competitor. From when he was with New England to when he played for the Jets, he was just always so tough to cover and tackle when we was coming out of the backfield. Curtis never said much and let his actions speak louder than his words. His teammates always knew they could count on him and that means so much in this game.
Kevin Mawae, Titans center and former Jets teammate:
"Curtis was a true competitor. No player wants to leave the game due to injury, but in his case, football didn't define him as a person and this is more of a beginning than an ending for him. I respected the fact that he was never bigger than the game and was one of the most underrated running backs to play the game. He just quietly worked his way up the NFL's all-time rushing list with little fanfare. It was a privilege and an honor to play with him. Our group was able to accomplish a lot and I was proud of his winning the rushing title in 2004 and what it said about him and the group of guys around him."
Dan Henning, former Jets offensive coordinator:
"In all the years that I coached, I had two guys at the running back position that could do it all. One was William Andrews (Atlanta) and the other was Curtis Martin. They could run with the best, they could block with the best and they could catch it. Probably the best thing about both of them was they just went out and did their job, went out and worked everyday, and were just great guys to coach. I wish Curtis the best."
Willie McGinest, former Patriots teammate:
"Curtis Martin is an amazing person. His football statistics and professional accomplishments don't come close to matching the type of person Curtis is off the field. He is one of the most unselfish people I ever played with. He worked harder and endured more pain than most players — and he never complained. It was always about what was best for the team before he thought about what was best for himself. He didn't get as much attention as some of the other top running backs in the NFL because he was quiet, humble and kept to himself. However, his presence on the team was felt every day. Curtis led by example – everyone worked harder and played harder to keep up with him. Curtis is like a little brother to me and I'm proud to call him a friend. He deserves everything good that has come to him in his life."
Lawyer Milloy, former Patriots teammate:
"Curtis is a class act. He was a guy who had standards and a guy I looked up to. I liked the way he approached the game and prepared. A lot of what I do as I prepare for a game I learned from watching Curtis when I was a younger player. Curtis was not flashy and did not say much, but he was a natural leader who earned everyone's respect. When he went to the Jets, I knew he was going to bring his best and he made me bring my best when we played. Curtis left his mark on this league and I love him like a brother."
Dolphins DE Jason Taylor:
"Curtis Martin embodies everything you want an NFL star to be. He is a class act and a great runner, not to mention a Pittsburgh guy! I have nothing but respect for him and what he accomplished over the course of his Hall of Fame career."
Maurice Carthon, former Patriots and Jets coach:
"I love Curtis Martin. Curtis is the best player I have ever coached. I love Curtis like a brother, and I am a better coach because of him. I wish he was still playing, because he sets an example for the younger players."
Sam Gash, former Patriots teammate and Jets coach:
"What amazed me about Curtis was his ability to play with pain. It gets tough playing with injuries. Watching him play injured and put out a stand-out performance was inspirational. His acceleration to get away from a big hit was amazing. He is one of my favorites and he was easy to block for. All I had to do was make them blink and he went right by me."
Mark Wittgarner, Martin's former coach at Taylor Allderdice High School:
"What impresses you most about Curtis Martin is the person, not the player. Curtis is probably one of the most upright, outstanding, courageous and giving individuals I've met in my life. Obviously, as a player, there is no question he is the best of the six NFL players I've coached. However, what I want to emphasize and what I feel is most memorable about Curtis is his outstanding character. Anybody's life that has been touched by Curtis Martin is better for it."
Retired QB Drew Bledsoe, former Patriots teammate:
"Curtis Martin is hands-down the best running back I've ever played with."
Retired G Dave Szott, former Jets teammate:
"Off the field, Curtis was as good of a performer as he was on the field. He cared about people, he gave up his time and his resources and was a perfect ambassador to what the NFL wanted to embody as a player and as a person. When he spoke, everyone hung on to every word he said. He was the guy you wish you had 53 of as far as his character, his intergrity and his level of performance."
Freeman McNeil, days before Martin passed him for the franchise's rushing record in 2004:
"I had my time. Now it's Curtis' time. We celebrate the things he's doing. Certainly he embodies a work ethic, a commitment to excellence. He brings that to his sport and his team."
Legendary back Jim Brown on doing interviews as Martin approached Brown's career rushing mark of 12,312 yards in 2004:
"When Walter [Payton] passed me, Walter was the same kind of guy as Curtis. I was very happy to participate. I did interviews and all that. Some guys, I wouldn't have got out of bed for."
Former Jets offensive coordinator Paul Hackett in September 2003:
"Curtis is a phenomenon. He's the best football player on the field every single day."
Former Jets head coach Al Groh in 2000:
"Curtis really likes football. He is the consummate team guy. The way you see him play on the field is just the tip of the effort he's put forth in unchronicled ways to pursue excellence to the highest degree."
Former Jets running back and close friend Richie Anderson in 2000:
"Curtis brings it all. He doesn't leave any of his ammunition home."
QB Vinny Testaverde, after Martin began the 2000 season with four touchdowns in the Jets' first four games:
"Curtis is off to another great start, another MVP year. He touches the ball 20, 30, close to 40 times a game. He's more valuable than anybody else on our team. What he does with the ball far exceeds what I do with it."
Woody Johnson, after Martin signed a contract extension in the summer of 2002:
"You don't see guys like Curtis every day. He's as rare as the Hope Diamond.''
Former Jets running backs coach Bishop Harris in September 2001:
"All those clichés, West Coast, East Coast, it doesn't make any difference. Whatever accolades he might receive will be well-deserved. I can't think of a person I've coached in all my years who would be better to go to war with than Curtis Martin."
Emmitt Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher, before the Jets faced Smith's Cardinals in November 2004:
"I don't think there's been a running back in the past 10 years who's been as consistent as Curtis, or even myself."
Former wide receiver and teammate Wayne Chrebet in 2003:
"Curtis is someone I can call a true friend. It's the '1-and-1 Rule,' that's my rule. You're at Exit 1 on the Turnpike at 1 in the morning and you need a ride home. Who's going to really say, `Yeah, I'll be right there'? He's one of those guys you can count on."