NEW YORK (July 26, 2007) -- New York Jets running back Curtis Martin, fourth on the NFL's career rushing list, announced his retirement -- 19 months after playing his final game.
The five-time Pro Bowl selection said in January that he had probably played his last game because of a bone-on-bone right knee injury suffered during the 2005 season. Martin made the long-anticipated decision official -- after months of rehabbing and deliberating -- a day before the Jets open training camp.
"Retirement is not an end, but a beginning," the 34-year-old Martin said in a statement. "It is not giving up a position, but more of a passing of the baton. And it's definitely not a crossroad, but a bridge that will further my pursuits within the NFL."
Martin finished with 14,101 yards rushing in 11 active seasons, ranking behind only Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726) and Barry Sanders (15,269). His 3,518 carries are third on the NFL's career list, and his 90 rushing touchdowns rank him tied for 12th with Eric Dickerson. Martin was also a versatile offensive weapon throughout his career, catching 484 passes for 3,329 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Jets will honor Martin in a special ceremony before the beginning of the regular season.
Martin tore cartilage in his right knee in Week 2 against Miami in 2005, and aggravated the injury two games later against Baltimore. He played through the pain -- typical of the toughness he displayed throughout his career -- but ended his season after the Jets' 12th game.
It became a bone-on-bone injury when the damaged cartilage was surgically removed that December. His recovery was slow and the team placed him on the physically unable to perform list before training camp last summer so he could further rehabilitate the knee. They put him on injured reserve in November, ending his season.
While Martin was present during most team meetings last season and acted as a mentor to some of the younger players, including running back Leon Washington and Cedric Houston, he never played another down in the NFL.
Martin spent his first three seasons with New England, including being named the NFL's offensive rookie of the year in 1995. He came to the Jets as a restricted free agent in 1998 and became one of the most popular and successful players in team history.
His best year was his last healthy season in 2004, when he led the league in rushing with 1,697 yards and tied Sanders' record with 10 straight 1,000-yard seasons to start a career.