HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (Dec. 15, 2005) -- Those famous Santa Monica steps better watch out. Curtis Martin is ready to give them a pounding.
The Jets' star running back vowed to work more diligently than ever in the offseason, one day after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean out his right knee. Martin has made it a habit to run the 200 steps on the California beach to stay in top shape, and said "I'm going to run them even harder this year."
"This surgery, this is my first time in my career missing games like this," Martin said. "It feels like unfinished business. It's like inspired frustration that I have about it. I just can't wait to get back going."
The 32-year-old Martin said he had several bone chips removed and bone bruises in two places. He felt so good after the surgery, he started his rehab immediately and expects to start running again in February. There was no ligament or structural damage, a big positive for a running back getting up there in age.
Martin brushed aside any suggestions his career might be over, and expects to return to the team in 2006. If the Jets decide to keep him, they might ask him to take a pay cut and a diminished role. Though Martin declined to talk about his contract situation -- he is due $8.1 million next season -- he said he would be OK with splitting time because he wants to play for coach Herman Edwards.
"I'd rather be here than anywhere else, I know that much," Martin said. "I don't know what my role would be, but I'd rather be here. I'd even rather lose with the Jets than win with someone else.
"I like it here, it's my type of place. I would rather play here this year with a 3-10 record right now than to be with the Colts right now. The Jets, they've been good to me, and I appreciate them."
Edwards also insisted Martin would return.
"By no stretch of the imagination is Curtis Martin out of our plans," Edwards said. "He needs to be a Jet as long as he wants to be a Jet, and I think he will be."
At the same time, Martin knows he might be faced with a tough decision if the Jets want to release him and save $6.2 million. Should he go to another team or maybe retire?
"Yeah, but life's about making hard decisions," he said.
Martin had started 119 straight games before deciding to end his season with surgery. Though he was injured in September against Miami, Martin continued to play, hoping his knee would hold up so he could become the first player in NFL history to start a career with 11 straight 1,000 yard seasons.
After faltering against New England two weeks ago, Martin finally realized it would be impossible to go on, even though he has played through many injuries before. His ironman streak was so impressive even his doctors marveled at the pain he has been able to endure.
"One of the doctors said we just have to write a book about how you're able to do that, because there's no way in the world you should have been out there," Martin said. "It's just amazing the pain that it had to be, it's just surprising you were able to do what you were doing."