Curtis Martin, NFL Hall of Famer, Says Bible Inspired His Jersey Number

( [email protected] ) Jun 24, 2014 05:42 PM EDT
Curtis Martin, former running back for the New York Jets and hall of famer, recently opened about the Biblical significance of his jersey number, 28.
Curtis Martin accepts his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with tearful tribute to his mother and years of hard work. (Reuters)

NFL Hall of Famer and former New York Jets running back Curtis Martin recently revealed to NBC Sports that the Bible inspired his jersey number 28, which the team retired for him in 2012.

After wearing number 26 for a while, Martin began wearing jersey 28 after the former player who wore it was cut from the team. After talking to his pastor, Martin realized that numbers have significant-and even Biblical-meaning.

"[My pastor] said (28) because that is a really important Bible verse. It's Deuteronomy 28, and he said that it talks about the blessings for obedience and all that," Martin said. "So I took the number and Deuteronomy 28 became my only ritual before every game. I would read it and that's the reason why I wore No. 28."

Not only did Martin adopt the number on his jersey, he told NBCSN, but he also developed a ritual surrounding the Biblical passage. "I took the number and Deuteronomy 28 became my only ritual before every game," Martin said. "I would read it and that's the reason why I wore number 28."

Martin's run with the Jets spanned from 1998 until his retirement in 2005, yet the athlete admitted during his speech after getting inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 that he originally never wanted to play football.

Martin's road to success was anything but easy. As a young child, he witnessed his father physically abuse his mother and beat his grandmother to death. The athlete revealed he never believed he'd make it to the age of twenty, and even made a pact with God, promising that if he made it to 21, he would surrender his life to the Lord and "do whatever you want me to do."

Because he grew up in the rough inner-city of Pittsburg, his mother made him participate in a sport to stay off the streets. Within a short period of time, Martin became a skilled football player, garnering the attention from many well-known schools, including the University of Pittsburg.

After play for the college team for several years, Martin was drafted by the New England Patriots. However, the young man was unsure about whether to accept the offer.

Martin reveals that his pastor at the time, Leroy Joseph, told him "Curtis, look at it this way ... maybe football is just something that God is giving you to do all those wonderful things that you say you want to do for other people," reports Yahoo! Sports.

However, Martin now realizes that every event in his life has been guided very intentionally by God. Now, to give back, Martin focuses on providing help to single mothers, children's charities, individuals with disabilities and low-income housing providers through the Curtis Martin Job Foundation.