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Preview an all-new CenterStage with Curtis Martin

Michael Kay's chat with the Hall of Fame RB premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. on YES
07/30/2013 3:24 PM ET
By YESNetwork.com Staff

Curtis Martin explains his "Boy Wonder" nickname on an all-new CenterStage premiering Wednesday at 8 p.m.(Ellen Wallop/YES Network)
Wednesday night marks the premiere of an all-new CenterStage with ex-New York Jets and New England Patriots running back Curtis Martin, who sits down with Michael Kay to talk about both football and life.

From how his rough childhood inspired him all the way through his Hall of Fame career, his aspirations to now one day own an NFL team, and his thoughts on the ongoing concussion crisis in the NFL, Martin weighs in on how he got from where he was to where he is – and he has a lot to say about 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Bill Parcells, who he says gave him “the best piece of advice I ever received.”

CenterStage with Curtis Martin premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. – right before Yankees vs. Dodgers coverage at 9 p.m. – and here’s a sneak preview of what you’ll see:

Martin on how being raised by his single mother taught him maturity at an early age:
“My mother taught me to be so mature as a kid. When I was seven years old, I used to take money down to the phone company and pay bills. I used to go out, shovel snow, and bring her back two dollars and say, “Here mom, this is for some bills.” When I was in kindergarten and first grade, she had taught me how to come home, make myself something to eat and stay in the house by myself until she got home at like 10 o’clock at night, because we couldn’t afford a babysitter. I wasn’t allowed to go outside, because she didn’t want anyone to know that I was unattended, because she thought that CYS (Children and Youth Services) would take me.”

On how he believes his difficult childhood led to his success:
“(My dad left) when I was probably four years old or so. In hindsight now, I realize that was a good thing. You know, my father, he had a lot of issues. He was strung out on drugs. He just passed recently and we had a really good relationship before he passed. He said, “I never understood why your mother was so mad at me for all those years.” And I said, “Oh yeah?” He said, “Man, I was out of my mind. I was strung – I was the biggest drug addict that I know, and I know a lot of drug addicts.” He said, “How can you be mad at someone for what they did when they were on drugs?” I’ve watched him beat my mother. I’m talking about beat my mother, like a real fight, like fighting a man. My mother would have black eyes, busted lips. (She’d) have to cover up with makeup to go to work. It was really horrific for a kid to see. It scared me, but I think that a large part of the success that I had in life, and I’m not talking about materially, I’m just talking about inwardly, being accepting of myself, coming through a place of peace within my own heart, has to do with a lot of the trials that I’ve been able to overcome.”

On how his football life began:
“I didn’t want to play football in high school and I ended up playing basically to save my life. My mother told me, “Curt, just do something. I’m so afraid for your life, and I’ve lost my mother, I’ve lost my sister, I’ve lost my brother. If something happens to you, they might as well kill me too.” And so I did it, and I ended up earning a scholarship, and I’m like, “Ugh, now I gotta go to college.” (laughs)”

On how Bill Parcells gave him the “Boy Wonder” nickname:
“After the first game that I played, my rookie year, I had a big game and scored the winning touchdown. All the reporters were around my locker after the game, and Bill Parcells is walking by, and he says, “Get away from him. He’s a one-game wonder. You guys (are) out like he’s in the Hall of Fame already.” After that, (I’m) a two-game wonder. And so my goal was to keep making them say I was a three-game, four-game, five-game wonder. Eventually, (Parcells) just called me Boy Wonder. He still calls me Boy Wonder.”

The greatest piece of advice he ever got:
“There’s a huge difference between routine and commitment. Parcells said that, “Son, a lot of people do the same routine over and over again. A few people commit to the next level.” I try to live my life in a perpetual state of committing to the next level.”

On the complete 180 of his perception of the Jets from his early days until now:
“The one thing I knew about football is that I never wanted to play for the New York Jets. That was the one demand that I had in the NFL. … (Now) my goal is to be a general partner one day, and to be a general partner, you have to own at least 30 percent. Right now, football is what I want. And, I can’t afford to do both (NFL and NBA). If I could own one team in the NFL right now, I would choose only the Jets.”

On how he often played injured:
“I didn’t stay healthy. I learned to play with pain. I think that one of the misconceptions that people have about me is that I was one of the durable running backs. I really wasn’t durable. I still needed four surgeries. But I just learned to play with things and endure pain. I needed two knee surgeries and two shoulder surgeries. I remember playing the Giants, and I was running and the ball got stripped out of my hand. And I went to reach back for it, and then everyone jumped on top of me, and my arm went too far this way and I tore my rotator cuff down there. I was supposed to miss the season to get it repaired, and I decided not to, so they just tape my arm to my chest, and I could only do this to hold the ball and I played the whole season like that. It fused back together so it’s not proper, but it works.”

On getting hit so hard he went into the wrong huddle:
“I get the ball, I take this hit, and I get up, and I know that I’m dazed. I make it back to the huddle. I’m wondering like wow, I must really be messed up this time, because everything’s black. Eventually I come to, and there’s a guy bending over, who turns around, says, “What are you doing?” And I was in the Raiders’ huddle. That’s why everything was black. And so he yells over to his side, he’s like, “Someone come get him.” I was just standing there with my hands on my hips.”

On the new NFL rule stating that running backs can no longer lead with the crown of their helmet:
“Well, I think you can only do so much, because at some point in time, your instincts take over. It’s hard to tell a running back not to put your head down when that’s your defense.”

To hear more from Martin, tune into an all-new CenterStage with Michael Kay on Wednesday at 8 p.m., with a special encore presentation Thursday at 11 p.m. on YES.

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