No. 3 – Curtis MartinCurtis Martin is one of only three running backs in the history of the NFL to run for over 14,000 yards – the others are Barry Sanders, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith. Yeah, that’s pretty good company.
Martin’s unlikely ascent to the top of professional football started in 1995 when he was selected by the New England Patriots with 74th pick of the draft. On his first run from scrimmage the following year, Martin ran for 30 yards. He didn’t slow down at all that season and wound up taking Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Following three successful seasons in New England, Martin followed Coach Bill Parcells to the Jets after ’97. In NY, he played eight incredible years with the Jets from 1998-2005, cementing himself as an all-time NY great.
Martin’s legendary work ethic is perhaps the biggest reason for his on-field success. In 10 straight seasons, Martin rushed for over 1,094 yards on at least 260 carries. He is one of only two backs to rush for over 1,000 yards in 10 straight seasons, while his 3,518 attempts are also the third most carries in history. In 2004, at the age of 31, Martin became the oldest back in NFL history to lead the league in rushing.
Martin had one shot at the Super Bowl with the ’96 Pats, but they came up just short against the Green Bay Packers. Martin has been a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame since his induction in 2012, and his #28 was retired by the Jets that same year.