Friday, February 10, 2012

Curtis Martin: The Malcontent's Moment

Most of the time running backs coming out of college with bad reps fully justify those reps. In fact, they often go out of their way to justify their reps. Lawrence Phillips? Choking the woman in the bar was sheer genius. Ricky Williams? You had a feeling the NFL wasn't ready for Peter Tosh, and you were right. Cedric Benson? His only faux pas was not getting arrested in grand style, in Chicago, on a Great Lake. Maurice Clarett? Rashaan Salaam? Brent Moss? Brent Fullwood? Duane Thomas? Joe Don Looney? The defense rests.

Ah, but ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the prosecution calls Curtis Martin. Martin was a first-round talent drafted coming out of Pitt, but was drafted in the third round because of concerns over his work ethic. You know where those concerns usually wind up: Larry Kinnebrew. Well, it never happened. Instead, Martin became respected for his diligent work habits and overall intelligence -- the anti-Phillips, so to speak.

Arguably the best NFL free-agent signing ever and definitely one of the top five free-agent signings in New York sports history, Martin signed a big-money deal with the Jets so he could stick with Bill Parcells, and he delivered seven straight 1,000-yard seasons. He's the Jets' all-time rushing leader, the star of this year's Canton class, and a quality individual, but consider all the damage he's done. Thanks to Martin, drafting a malcontent like Travis Henry makes sense. On the other hand, that's why God made Cincinnati start with "sin."

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