"For myself, that award means more to me than any other award, more than the Pro Bowl, more than anything else. My peers are the guys who see me every day, day in, day out. They know exactly what I'm about, how I am on and off the field. Words can't explain how I feel about that. It's the award that makes me happy," said Martin.
Martin, who is currently leading the NFL in rushing with 1,463 yards, became only the 2nd player in the franchise's 42-year history to be named the MVP for 3 straight years. Al Toon, the former Jets wide receiver who was forced to retire from football in 1992 because of post concussion syndrome, captured the Jets MVP Award in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath is the only other Jet to have won the club's MVP award 3 times winning it in 1968, 1969 and 1974. Since the Dennis Byrd Award was established in honor of the Jets' former defensive end who was paralyzed in a game against Kansas City on Nov. 29, 1992 and who recovered and walked out of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City on Feb. 12, 1993, Martin is the first player to win both the Byrd Award and the MVP Trophy in the same season.
"[The Dennis Byrd Award], that's a great award. It speaks more about character, about the person you are than a player. I don't know if that's No. 1 or No. 2 as to what I think is the best award."
Just a day before his teammates honored him with their awards, Martin made a return to the NFL's Pro Bowl roster. He was a Pro Bowl honoree as a rookie in 1995 when he led the AFC in rushing for New England and followed up again in 1996. In his first year as Jet in 1998 he also earned a trip to the Pro Bowl. Martin's reaction to the awards was typical of him.
Martin was asked about the pressure on the Jets to win the season's final regular season game at Oakland in order to get into the playoffs. "The only way to deal (with pressure) with it is to go out and win. There's no other remedy than to go and get a win. Other than that, we've failed, in my mind, if we don't beat the Oakland Raiders and get the playoffs. What was all the work in March for, all the hard work in training camp, coming in here every day to sweat tears? We have to get it done."
When asked does he feel a special reason to put the team on his shoulders on Sunday, he replied: "I feel that responsibility every week regardless of the situation. That's just my attitude. My attitude is to leave myself out there on the field, regardless of the game or the situation. This game is definitely one of the most important games I think I've been part of in my career."