SAN DIEGO -- Ex-New York Giants lineman George Martin went through 24 pairs of shoes and lost 40 pounds before finishing his cross-country walk Saturday, raising $2 million along the way for sick 9/11 rescue workers.
Martin ended his nine-month, 3,020-mile trek at Embarcadero Park, where he was met by police officers, firefighters and other NFL alumni.
"I feel like a million bucks," Martin said. "Other than a blister that I have on my left foot, I'm in great shape."
The co-captain of the 1987 Super Bowl champions said he considered it a privilege to walk on behalf of the 9/11 first responders. He called them far more heroic than any professional athlete.
"What they did on that day, I could never do in a million years," Martin said.
He began the walk in New York on Sept. 16 to draw attention to the plight of rescue and recovery workers who developed respiratory problems after working in the dusty ruins of the World Trade Center.
"These heroes need our collective support," Martin said in a statement. "Many who answered our nation's call for help now cannot even walk up the steps in their own homes due to severe respiratory and other ailments. Some are dying. They deserve our help."
The trip began on the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan to Hackensack, N.J., on his way to a halftime appearance at Giants Stadium. Martin walked south to Tennessee, west through Texas and across the high plains and desert to California.
He trudged through rainstorms, winter ice and brutal heat, and the trip took five months longer than expected. He averaged 22 miles per day and burned through 80 pairs of socks.
Martin, who played 14 years in the NFL, is an executive at the financial services firm AXA Equitable. He lives in New Jersey.
The walk wasn't without hitches. Strong headwind forced him to walk some parts of his route backward, from west to east, because it was too exhausting.
"While this has been a difficult undertaking, it has also been wonderful to see our nation on foot while raising awareness about the plight of these 9/11 workers," Martin said.
He originally planned to reach the Golden Gate Bridge, but adjusted his route to finish in San Diego.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press