Some people just seem to have a penchant for being overlooked and unappreciated. My wife said that to me just the other day and I said, "Yeah, what is it about Curtis Martin that causes that?" She obviously didn't have an answer because she just looked at me.
So, I ask you: What is it about Jets running back Curtis Martin that he just doesn't get the attention you would expect for someone with his accomplishments? Just look at what he's done:
• Martin is on pace for his ninth consecutive thousand-yard season. The guy has never had anything but thousand-yard seasons. He came into the league a year before Eddie George did, but George has long since burned out and Martin is still going strong. We're talking about a guy who has rushed for 11,107 yards in his career and could pass O.J. Simpson and move into 12th place on the NFL's all-time rushing list this Sunday when the Jets host the Jaguars. In fact, Martin is likely to move past Jim Brown next season, and only needs a couple of thousand more yards to finish his career as the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history, behind only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders.
Durability? Martin hasn't missed a game since 1998 and has only missed four in his career.
Versatility? Martin is averaging 47 pass receptions per season and hit a high of 70 catches in 2000.
Simply put, Martin is the greatest player in New York Jets history. Joe Namath? Jeff Lageman? Matt Robinson? Are you kidding?
So why is Martin's name never mentioned with the all-time greats? Why has his name never been mentioned with the best during his playing career? Emmitt Smith had his time, Terrell Davis had his and so has Eddie George. Why hasn't Martin?
His coach, Herman Edwards, says it's because Martin isn't a highlight-reel guy. "He's not a guy who is going to make a lot of (long) runs. He's going to make runs of 10 and 20 yards, and that kind of gets overlooked and that doesn't get on the highlight show," Edwards said.
All right, I'll buy that. But isn't it time, now, that we start taking notice of what Martin has done in his career? Isn't about time we recognize that nine years of achievement is a highlight?
By all means, enjoy the Byron Leftwich vs. Chad Pennington show this Sunday, but don't overlook Martin. You'll be getting a look at one of the truly great running backs in the history of the game.
Now, here's 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Jets.
- Run, run, run--It is the Jets' greatest weakness: run-defense. After week nine, when the Raiders executed an 18-play, all-runs touchdown drive, the Jets fell to the bottom of the league's run-defense rankings, and they've stayed there. They are allowing a grotesque 154.1 yards per game, which is 54.1 yards more a game than the Jaguars rush-offense is averaging.
- Stop Curtis Martin--See information above.
- Hold his own--What a source of pride this game is for Marshall College football fans. Pennington vs. Leftwich; young quarterbacks destined to become NFL stars of the future. For the Jaguars to win, Leftwich, Marshall class of 2002, needs to hold his own against Pennington, Marshall class of 2000.
- Be ready for the cold--Late November in the Meadowlands; cold, wet and windy. Weren't the Jaguars struggling through the heat of training camp just a few months ago? This is football in the northeast. The Jaguars have to be ready for it. No standing around the heaters.
- Respect their roster--Minus a couple of key players, this is largely the same roster of players that powered the Jets to the playoffs last season. This is not a down-and-out football team. It just got off to a bad start while Pennington was injured.
- Know where you are--Giants Stadium; New York, New York. This is the big-time. The Jaguars have struggled in this venue in recent years. It's time to take on the image of a big-time team by playing big in the biggest of the league's big markets.
- Deny big plays--The Jets have players who can make them. Santana Moss immediately comes to mind. This is a team with weapons at the skilled positions. In cold-weather games, big plays are usually the deciding factor.
- Make big plays--So, make some of your own. It's time to do just that on special teams. Who will step up and strike a blow for special teams?
- Get that late-season feeling--Much of the league is playing for division titles and playoff berths. It's a great time of year; Thanksgiving just ahead and the scent of the postseason in the air. This is the time of year for big games. Go ahead, dream a little.
- Identify yourself--For a Jaguars team in rebuilding, this season is about identifying players for the team's future. This is another opportunity. Who are those players?