NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tucked behind the Met is the oldest man-made object in America — a 5,000-year-old obelisk from Egypt.
As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer learned, “Cleopatra’s Needle” is the perfect setting for a conversation with an anthropologist who also happens to be an NFL player.
“Anthropology, for me, is really a celebration of different cultures and building and understanding of those cultures, and in doing that you assign those cultures value,” Jets linebacker Josh Martin said.
In the gridiron culture, Martin brings power — and brain power. He’s one of just 12 Ivy Leaguers in the NFL.
“I feel like my intelligence is definitely valued in the locker room,” Martin said. “But at the end of the day, we’re all in the same locker room. … Something that I’ve taken from anthropology and valuing other people and the differences.”
And taking an anthropological look at modern American culture, a big piece is sports.
“You think of gladiators, and that’s what we are. We’re gladiators,” Martin said. “People come to see us battle.”
Columbia University is where Martin earned his degree and proved himself to NFL scouts.
The Lions enjoyed their best season in two decades this year. But as the only Columbia player in the NFL, Martin attracts attention on campus from everyone, including Patriots owner and Columbia alum Robert Kraft, whom Martin recently encountered at a Lions game.
“I liked what you did Thursday night,” Kraft told him. “It’s not often I root for the Jets.”
“I appreciate it,” Martin said. “Good to see you.”
Martin makes it easy to root for him. He’s a critical thinker, anthropologist, Jet and fan of everything he finds in New York.
“That’s really what sold me on New York. I was on my official visit to Columbia, and I was in Times Square. It was 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, the latest I’d ever stayed out in my life,” Martin said. “And in this back alley, this guy was wailing on a tenor sax, and I thought, ‘Wow, like this is it. I want to be here, living in New York. There’s nothing better.'”
New York is perfect for Martin’s eventual post-NFL career as well. Anthropologists are finding success in venture capitalist firms as experts in the path of a society. In fact, Martin interned at one of those firms that invests in tech startups, and it called him a “value add.”