Behind Enemy Lines: Curtis Martin

Curtis Martin isn't flashy and isn't about to mouth off because the team didn't celebrate a milestone. Unlike the self-centered T.O. types in the league, Martin just keeps on producing, quietly. It's one of the reasons the New York Jets running back has endeared himself to many fans. 14,000 yards and 3,500 carries later, this former Patriot just keeps on going. Martin is on the brink of setting a standard unlikely of being repeated anytime soon. It's about time people took notice says his coach.

After 24 carries for 91 rushing yards against New Orleans, Curtis Martin has 3,503 career rushing attempts and 14,072 career rushing yards. Only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders have more career yards, and only Smith and Payton have more carries.

Martin's reaction after the game to these numbers was predictable, however.

"As a professional," he said, "you would trade all the milestones for a win. It really doesn't matter whether we're going to the playoffs or not, (being) 3-8 would have meant everything to me."

Instead, the Jets fell to 2-9 with a 21-19 loss to New Orleans. So as a lost season winds down, one player to keep an eye on is Martin. Despite the fact the Jets are going nowhere, don't expect him to relinquish his role as the Jets' featured back, at least not this season. That's a message coach Herm Edwards has made loud and clear recently.

In fact, Martin, who has 706 yards rushing in 2005, needs only 294 to become the only player in NFL history to accumulate at least 1,000 yards in each of his first 11 seasons in the league. He and Sanders currently are tied with 10 seasons.

Jets coach Herm Edwards is quite aware of this.

"No one has ever done that in the history of pro football starting out," Edwards said Monday. "So that's a big accomplishment for him personally, and it would be a great accomplishment for this football team and for the guys that are on this team. We talked about it. I told them about it. I said that's something. We've got a couple goals down the road here - to win some games, obviously, for our players to get better and, obviously, for Curtis Martin to set this record. I think it's important, and it's important for football and it's important for this football team."

The game wasn't stopped when Martin topped the 14,000-yard mark. Don't look for him to complain anytime soon that it wasn't.

"Exactly right," Edwards said. "He doesn't want any publicity. He doesn't want the game to be stopped or any of that stuff. He just keeps playing."

As for Martin's future, Edwards declined to address it.

"Well, that's always speculation," he said. "I learned my lesson about speculation about two weeks ago (with the Kansas City rumors), so I'm not going to speculate on speculation. I learned a valuable lesson on that. I just think when Curtis decides to retire, it will be on him."


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