By Jason Keidel, WFAN columnist
An Associated Press post on this very page lauded two extraordinary Joes (Namath and Klecko) while they were inducted into the Jets’ newfound “Ring of Honor.”
As always, the most honorable Jet of all was omitted.
Curtis Martin, the Dean of Dignity, quietly assumed his place with all the fanfare of a field goal. This is how he rolls, quietly, the humble, helmeted champion who did all of his talking in the arena, leaving pinheads like me scramble for the right words.
Some people lament the tone of the contemporary sports blotter, finding it decidedly dark (Udonis Haslem, Santonio Holmes, Lance Stephenson, etc.). Perhaps it is a societal thing to see crime only in color. Or perhaps it is because we don’t know a good thing when we have one; looking for heroes on our front yard while ignoring the one we have in our backyard.
Who is Curtis Martin? An intensely private man, he lets us see little beyond his deeds on the weeds of a football field. In a profoundly New York sense, he is the football incarnation of Don Mattingly, the greatest Big Apple baller who never won a ring.
Martin has no posse, rap video or rap sheet. He has no carefully crafted shtick to cultivate. Martin is merely a man. And a great one. Over the last few decades we have become increasing immune to the dull beauty of quiet accomplishment. We assume that victory is a hybrid social equation, part athletics and part persona.
We can list his stats here, the thousands of yards and scores of scores. But that would be myopic and insulting to a man who means exponentially more. Martin swam against the media current, breaking tackles and stereotypes with the monolithic humility of another era.
Martin is the quintessential throwback, an authentic role model who kids can admire without risking the pristine portions of imagination. Those of us resisting middle age remember the last era of heroes, before cell phones and laptops, before TMZ and other tabloids became so eager to burn our field of dreams.
We didn’t properly acknowledge Curtis Martin while he played, when he retired, and when he was honored. And, by default, we don’t deserve him. We have one more chance. Canton will call in a few years. He will join Joe Namath, with none of Broadway Joe’s bravado. Then Curtis Martin will leave, leaving us short of one hero.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com