Curtis Martin: “I don’t think I would’ve made it five years in NFL without Bill Parcells”

(Photo courtesy of New York Jets)

Talk of Fame Network

During this weekend’s visit on Talk of Fame Network, Hall-of-Fame running back Curtis Martin was asked if he thought he would have made it to Canton if he hadn’t crossed paths will Hall-of-Fame coach Bill Parcells early in his career. Martin not only said he wouldn’t have reached the pinnacle of pro football; he opined his NFL career might well have been a brief one.

“Definitely not (reach the Hall of Fame),” Martin said. “I don’t think I would have made it five years in the NFL without Bill Parcells.”

The NFL’s fourth all-time leading rusher with 14,101 yards, Martin said it was Parcells who taught him how to overcome the nagging injuries that slowed him during his college career at Pitt and resulted in him becoming a third-round draft choice of the New England Patriots in 1995. But Parcells taught Martin more than just how to cope with the physical demands of pro football. He taught him a form of mental toughness that Martin said not only made him a Hall of Famer; but also a success in business and in his personal life.

Martin recalled how Parcells would walk through the trainer’s room daily, surveying what players were getting treatment while instructing the training staff to keep the room temperature “freezing cold.” Often Parcells would find Martin soaking his aching body in the cold tub and, according to Martin, would say, “I see you’re here getting your excuses ready.”

“He was old-school football,” Martin aid of Parcells. “It was more about being mentally tough than doing damage to your body.”

Martin said he knows many thought during the years he shared with Parcells in New England and with the New York Jets — that he was the “teacher’s pet.” If that were so, Martin recalled, it came with a steep price.

“One of the misconceptions was I was kind of the teacher’s pet with Parcells,” Martin recalled with a wry laugh. “To be teacher’s pet with Parcells meant he was harder on you than the others. To hear him tell it, the only other player he was harder on was L.T. (Lawrence Taylor).”

During a wide-ranging conversation with the Hall-of-Fame Guys, Martin also discussed the future of the running game in the evolving world of pro football, how his appearance in the now defunct Blue-Gray All-Star Game may have saved his career and why he would have made the same hard-edged decision to not re-sign the NFL’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, that the Dallas Cowboys made this off-season, even though Murray is one of his favorite backs today.

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