Parcells, who coached the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles, failed for a third time to be elected to the Hall of Fame, yet he was on hand for yesterday’s ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, to present Martin for enshrinement.
Martin, whose 14,101 rushing yards are the fourth-most in NFL history, is among six inductees in the class of 2012. Martin played four of his 11 seasons under Parcells, with both the New England Patriots and New York Jets, and said when he was elected that “there’s God, then there is Parcells, as far as the importance to my career.”
“Up until I met Bill Parcells when I entered the NFL, there was no role model in my life,” Martin said, sporting a vest made of silk embossed with the Hall of Fame symbol. “He was the first guy I looked up to. I didn’t think I knew better than him. If it wasn’t for Bill Parcells, my career wouldn’t be half of what it is today.”
Martin, 39, is joined in the class of 2012 by Jack Butler, a defensive back who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1951-59; Dermontti Dawson, a center who played for the Steelers from 1988-2000; Chris Doleman, defensive end and linebacker who was with the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers from 1985-99; Cortez Kennedy, a defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks from 1990-2000; and Willie Roaf, an offensive tackle who played for the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs from 1993-2005.
Martin, who was drafted by Parcells and the Patriots in 1995, had said his selection to the Hall of Fame was bittersweet because his former coach didn’t make it in.
Martin started 15 of 16 games for Parcells during his first NFL season, rushing for 1,487 yards and 14 touchdowns in garnering Rookie of the Year honors and the first of his five trips to the Pro Bowl. Martin and fellow Hall of Fame member Barry Sanders are the only NFL running backs to start their careers with 10 straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
After spending three years with the Patriots, Martin rejoined Parcells with the Jets in 1998 and played the final eight seasons of his career in New York. Martin won his lone NFL title during his last full NFL season in 2004, when he rushed for a career-high 1,697 yards at age 31.
Martin’s career ended with a knee injury in 2005, when he was limited to 735 yards in 12 games, failing to top 1,000 yards for the only time in his career.
Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726) and Sanders (15,269) are the only players who have rushed for more yards than Martin, whose 90 rushing touchdowns are tied with Eric Dickerson for the 12th most all-time.
Butler, 84, finished his career with 52 interceptions, returning four for touchdowns. He was All-NFL three times.
Dawson, 47, also spent his entire career with the Steelers, making the Pro Bowl seven times in 13 years after being taken in the second round of the 1988 draft. He ranks second in team history with 170 consecutive games played and twice helped Pittsburgh lead the NFL in rushing.
Doleman, 50, was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection whose 150 1/2 sacks rank fourth all-time.
Kennedy, 43, made the Pro Bowl eight times in his 11-year career with the Seahawks and in 1992 was named the NFL’s defensive player of the year for a team that went 2-14.
Roaf, 42, was selected to the Pro Bowl 11 times in 13 seasons and was an All-Pro three times.
To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at firstname.lastname@example.org