As former NFL player Curtis Martin was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend, it was his speech and not his accomplishments that garnered headlines.
Curtis Martin’s speech Saturday was described as “brutally honest, heartfelt, and complex” by Rich Eisen of the NFL Network, and those words certainly characterize the former Jets and Patriots player’s nuanced comments. Martin started with a few bits of information that one might not expect, namely for starters that he was no big fan of football — the running back explained:
“I’ll tell you this, I came into Canton this week, and everyone here who knows me, this section, everyone knows me. You know that I was never a football fan. I wasn’t the type of guy to watch football. I could probably count on one hand how many football games I’ve watched from beginning to end in my lifetime.”
And, Curtis Martin says, about the running thing, that’s a fluke too:
“I’m up here because of how many yards I ran. Everyone who knows me also knows that I hate to run. I don’t like to run at all. I box now to stay in shape just because I don’t want to run anywhere.”
But in and of itself, those admissions in Curtis Martin’s speech weren’t the buzzed about parts. What the former NFL star revealed was more of a personal nature, and first, he discussed making a deal with God during a time in his life when he had no direction. Martin explains that soon after, a high school coach recruited him despite his reticence:
“With him in one ear and my mother in the other ear, football became the default that I fell into. And Coach Mark Wittgartner, you have no idea what you were saying to me, but I believe what you said could have been the possible thing that saved my life. I think you were right.”
Then Curtis Martin’s speech took an even more emotional turn, as the star athlete described helping his mother get past the abuse she suffered at the hands of Martin’s dad:
“I don’t necessarily have notes, so I’m going to bare my soul and just bear with me… I remember watching him torture you. He had my mother locked in the bathroom. Had her sitting on the edge of the tub, and he turned on all the hot water and stopped the tub up so that the hot water would eventually flow on her legs. He dared her to move. As the hot water flowed up and started going on her legs and going on her feet and she would flinch a little bit, he would rush into the bathroom, take her hair and burn it with a lighter.”
“He would come back out, watch her some more, she’d move again, and he would go in there with a cigarette and put cigarette burns all over her legs which she still bears to this day. I’ve seen him beat her up like she was a man. I’ve seen him throw her down the steps. I’ve witnessed this woman go to they got a bet on whether I’m going to cry or not. So I’m going to hold it in.”
You can watch Curtis Martin’s speech below — is it the most honest and moving sports speech you’ve seen?