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Talk of Fame Network
The Talk of Fame Network continues its Countdown to the Draft, with third-round picks Curtis Martin and John Lynch joining this weekend’s radio broadcast to tell Rick, Ron and Clark how their head coaches helped turn them into two of the game’s best players.
With Martin, it was Hall-of-Fame coach Bill Parcells; with Lynch, it was Hall-of-Fame finalist Tony Dungy. In each instance, the results were the same: Their coaches developed the talent within Martin and Lynch to make them Hall-of-Fame worthy – with Martin a 2012 inductee and Lynch a two-time finalist.
A third-round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, Martin went on to rank fourth on the NFL’s career rushing list, winning two rushing titles along the way. He was a hit from the beginning, gaining 30 yards on his first carry, producing 102 yards in his first pro game and rushing for nearly 1,500 yards his rookie year as he won the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
But, he said, none of that would’ve been possible without advice and direction from Parcells.
“I’ll never forget being in practice in rookie camp,” Martin told the TOF, “and it seemed like I just couldn’t hit the hole; like I just kept getting stuffed. And Parcells came over to me, because he was trying to teach me how to press the hole.
“In college, you can start one way, turn back the other way and then go all the way back across the field and outrun everyone. So that’s what I was used to. In the NFL, it was a different story. so I just never forget the day he pulled me aside, because I was trying to listen to him and hit the hole exactly the way he was telling me to — which was taking away my God-given ability to make people miss.
“And so one day he said, ‘Listen, son, I think you understand what I mean by pressing the hole.’ He said, ‘Now I just want you to do what God has gifted you to do. Just run.’ And it was after that that I felt I got started being able to function within the NFL. That first game was just the culmination of all those days in camp.”
Lynch, a star collegiate pitcher who was a second-round draft pick of the Florida Marlins, had a similar experience with Dungy. Only it was on defense, and it was prior to training camp – shortly after Dungy took control of the Tampa Bay Bucs in 1996 and had Lynch sit down with him and two of Dungy’s defensive assistants, coordinator Monte Kiffin and assistant head coach/secondary coach Herman Edwards.
“I remember the conversations,” said Lynch, who went from a part-time player to become a nine-time Pro Bowler. “They brought me in, and they saw something in the short time I had been playing. And Tony talked about, ‘Hey we’re going to be doing some revolutionary things with the safety. You’re going to be up in the box. You’re going to be rushing the passer. You’re be back playing Cover-Two. You’re going to be covering people in the slot. We’re going to have you all over the field. We think your skills are perfect for it.’
“You can imagine how excited I got as Tony, Monte and Herm are selling me on this. Tony gave us direction. It wasn’t instant success, but he was stubborn in his beliefs because he knew the system worked. It was just a dream come true for me.”
In addition to Martin and Lynch, the Talk of Fame contrasts Philadelphia’s Chip Kelly with former Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson and pays tribute to Lynch … and other football greats who played major-league baseball … in recognition of major league baseball opening its regular season next week.
Clark Judge makes the Hall-of-Fame case for former Raiders’ receiver Cliff Branch, Rick Gosselin tells us why it pays to play defensive tackle, Ron Borges tells us why it doesn’t pay to be a St. Louis Rams’ fan and all three make their third-round picks as our Countdown to the Draft series continues. There’s plenty more, but you’ll have to tune into this weekend’s Talk of Fame Network radio broadcast to hear it.