Fantasy Football News

Sunday, July 10, 2011

HOF Snub: Why Curtis Martin is the Most Underrated Running Back in NFL History

Whether the lockout is lifted in time or not, we will see seven more players inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in August.

Three-time Super Bowl champion tight end Shannon Sharpe, Deion "Prime-time" Sanders and the running back on The Greatest Show on Turf, Marshall Faulk, are among those seven. But, in my opinion, there was one huge snub in this year's class.

Don't get me wrong, there were plenty that deserved to get in this year, and obviously they can't all get in at once. But I didn't think there was any doubt that former New England Patriot and New York Jet Curtis Martin would be voted in this year. It was his first year of eligibility, so he'll obviously be one of the first in come 2012. But Curtis is first-year talent, no questions asked.
Why did voters leave him out of the final group? Easy. He was underrated.

Curtis' Pats and Jets weren't winners.

Okay, so maybe I went a little far with that bold statement, because he did in fact make it to the Super Bowl while in New England. He even ran for 42 yards and a score against Brett Favre's Packers in the 1996 matchup. But the truth is, in Martin's 11 professional seasons he was on a measly five playoff teams--10 games in total--and put up a 5-5 record in those games.

Marshall Faulk, also in his first year of eligibility for the Hall, was, like I stated above, a member of The Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis, which featured three other future Hall of Famers: quarterback Kurt Warner and wideouts Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.

Martin played with some great players over his years as well, including quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who showed flashes of brilliance in his early years with the Pats. But he was never surrounding with that kind of talent in his offenses.

Did I mention that in his 11-year career Curtis racked up over 14,000 yards and hung up his cleats as the league's fourth all-time rusher, behind only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders. All three of those backs, obviously, have been in the Hall for quite some time.

Martin's five Pro Bowls and just one First-Team All Pro selection could be what has kept him from grabbing more attention from fans. But the truth of the matter is that Martin hasn't quite gotten as much respected as he deserves over his brilliant career.

Missing just 10 starts, consistency was the name of the game when it came to his production.

Rushing for 1,000-plus yards 10 times with just 29 career fumbles over his 166 starts seems like a pretty great accomplishment for an NFL running back.
I know it's tough and sometimes unproductive to compare different playing eras, but he had five less fumbles than Chicago Bears' great Gale Sayers, who played in 68 games over seven seasons as the Bears' primary running back and returner. Barry Sanders played just 10 seasons and fumbled the football 41 career times, and most consider Barry the NFL's best running back of all-time.

Tough to argue those numbers, which certainly favor Martin.

He also led the league in carries just one time, which just so happened to also be the same season he led the league in rushing yards (just one more than Seattle's Shaun Alexander) with 1,697 yards in 2004, a career-best. Two years later, he was out of the game.

Not only is Profootballreference.com great for researching and looking up research for the National Football League, but it also has a very useful feature: the "similar players" section, in which they compare a player's career to other current or former NFL players.

The list 10 players (it's the careers of the players that are being compared) that PFR listed as similar to Martin includes four Hall of Fame running backs--Tony Dorsett, Franco Harris, Jim Brown and Lenny Moore.

Curtis Martin put up very respectable numbers throughout his career, and was the model athlete both on and off the field. The fourth-leading rusher in NFL history was, without question, the biggest snub in the 2011 HOF class. I would be shocked if he was not the first voted in once 2012 rolls around.

(Note: this article was written based on opinion, using research and career statistics from Profootballreference.com. No, I am not a Jets fan. I'm just a guy who would like for Curtis Martin to receive a little more credit and attention for his accomplishments and approach to the game. There aren't enough guys like him in this league, he was a pleasure to watch every time he touched the football).

Photo credit
1. borrowed from thejetsblog.com
2. borrowed from greenpinstripes.com

1 comment:

  1. Well stated article...It's amazing how overlooked Curtis Martin has been from any discussion about all-time great RB's/players. Not being a "flashy" player, may have hampered that..

    As you pointed out, Martin's rank of 4th on all-time rushers has been practically obscured. To boot, he's also in the Top 10 in Yds from Scrimmage (8th), and one of only 20 players ever with at least 100 TD's. Every name next to his on those lists is either a HOFer or considered to be next in line, though CM is conspicuously absent from that conversation.

    Eleven years played, while rushing for 1000+ yds in the first 10 straight without having an overall great supporting cast (like Emmitt did) actually underscores how remarkable his accomplishments were.

    What's even more incredible is your glaring observation about how rarely he fumbled, and far less compared to other leading RB's. Only Sanders really even comes close, which speaks volumes.

    Your argument is legit -- why continue to ignore a player who proved exceptional consistency on and off the field, like Curtis Martin..?

    (I am also not a Jets/Patriots fan in particular, but merely a football fan who thinks CM's recognition is long overdue/inexplicable.)

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