Jets' Martin retires as NFL's No. 4 rusher 19 months after playing last game
Associated Press, Updated 7 minutes ago STORY TOOLS:
NEW YORK (AP) - New York Jets running back Curtis Martin, fourth on the NFL's career rushing list, announced his retirement Thursday - 19 months after playing his final game.
The five-time Pro Bowl selection acknowledged in January that he had probably played his last game because of a bone-on-bone right knee injury suffered during the 2005 season. Martin made the long-anticipated decision official - after months of rehabbing and deliberating - a day before the Jets begin training camp practices.
"I don't see this as a sad time," Martin said at a small, 45-minute news conference at the team's Manhattan offices, one of several stops on a whirlwind media tour. "Someone was just asking me if there's any moment in particular that sticks out as the best moment of my career, and I told them, 'Right now."'
Martin finished with 14,101 yards rushing in 11 active seasons, ranking behind only Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726) and Barry Sanders (15,269). His 3,518 carries are third on the NFL's career list, and his 90 rushing touchdowns rank him tied for 12th with Eric Dickerson. Martin was also a versatile offensive weapon throughout his career, catching 484 passes for 3,329 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"I've seen myself have one focus and maintained that focus, and at the end of the day, things turned out better than what I had even intended from the beginning," Martin said.
The Jets will honor Martin in a special ceremony before the beginning of the regular season. There is also growing sentiment that the team should retire Martin's No. 28 jersey.
"I think that would be great," Martin said with a big smile. "If that were to happen, I would like that."
Martin, always regarded as one of the classiest yet toughest players, has already moved on to the next phase of his life after football: He plans to become an NFL owner in the near future.
"I believe I've gotten a chance to understand the game from the ground up," said Martin, decked out in a sharp black suit and black and purple tie. "It's something that very few owners are able to do, simply because they're not privy to the intimacy of the locker rooms or the brotherhood of the players. I believe that I can bring something new, and something that I think could be better for the NFL overall."
Martin was hoping to announce specific plans Thursday, but hasn't finalized anything yet. He declined to reveal which teams he had spoken to, or if the Jets were one of them.
"It's something that I'm very excited about, and it looks good," he said.
Martin tore cartilage in his right knee in Week 2 against Miami in 2005, and aggravated the injury two games later against Baltimore. He played through the pain - typical of the toughness he displayed throughout his career - but ended his season after the Jets' 12th game.
It became a bone-on-bone injury when the damaged cartilage was surgically removed that December. His recovery was slow and the team placed him on the physically unable to perform list before training camp last summer so he could further rehabilitate the knee. They put him on injured reserve in November, ending his season - and ultimately, his career.
"When I realized that I wasn't going to recover the way I had hoped to, it's like my mind made that shift and I said, 'You know what? Unless a miraculous thing happens, I realized that this is the inevitable."'
While Martin was present during most team meetings last season and acted as a mentor to some of the younger players, including running back Leon Washington and Cedric Houston, he never played another down in the NFL.
"I don't have any regrets," Martin said. "I feel like I'm leaving this game exactly how I would want to. I know that I'm stubborn when it comes to football and I know that it would have to take something like this - and gratefully it's not too bad to where it's going to hinder the rest of my life where I'd need a wheelchair or cane, but from what I understand, had I went back on there on that field, that would have probably been the outcome of it."
Martin spent his first three seasons with New England, including being named the NFL's offensive rookie of the year in 1995. He came to the Jets as a restricted free agent in 1998 and became one of the most popular in team history.
His best year was his last healthy season in 2004, when he led the league with 1,697 yards rushing and tied Sanders' record with 10 straight 1,000-yard seasons to start a career.
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