Aug 4, 2012; Canton, OH, USA; Curtis Martin speaks at the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Fawcett Stadium. Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE
Curtis Martin was just enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He's clearly the best running back in New York Jets history and holds the franchise record for most career rushing yards as well as the single-season record. And he's one classy individual on top of all that. Though he's head and shoulders above every other back the Jets have featured, they have had some good ones. But before we get to the Top 5 list, rounding out the Top 10 are Brad Baxter in 10th place (2,928 yards), Adrian Murrell is ninth (3,447 yards), original Jet/Titan and Super Bowl champion Bill Mathis comes in at No. 8 (3,589 yards), Thomas Jones is seventh (3,833 yards) and John Riggins, who was the first Jet to gain over 1,000 yards in a season, in 1975, is in sixth place (3,880 yards). And now, the Top 5:
5. Johnny Hector, 4,280 yards: He played for the Jets from 1983 to 1992, and was the complement to Freeman McNeil for most of his tenure with Gang Green. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry (1,051 attempts), and scored 41 rushing touchdowns, leading the league with 11 in 1987. His longest run was 64 yards. Hector played in 126 games in his Jet career.
4. Matt Snell, 4,285 yards: Snell made his debut in 1964, which happened to be the first football game at Shea Stadium. He gained a career-high and franchise-record 948 yards as a rookie (which stood until Riggins broke the mark 11 years later). Injuries hampered Snell his whole career, with his last rushing attempt coming in 1970, though he stuck on the roster through the '72 season. He played in 78 games, scored 24 rushing touchdowns, averaged 4.1 yards per carry (1,057 attempts), with his longest run being 60 yards. Snell was a First-Team All-Pro in 1969, and he made three Pro Bowls. He starred in Super Bowl III, gaining 121 yards and scoring the Jets' only Super Bowl touchdown.
[Related: Curtis Martin Enshrinement StoryStream]
3. Emerson Boozer, 5,135 yards: Like Snell, Boozer had to fight through injuries for a chunk of his career, and the two shared a backfield (along with Mathis) for the first half of his career. He spent his whole 10-year career with the Jets (1966 to '75), scored 52 rushing touchdowns and averaged 4.0 yards per carry (1,291 attempts) in 118 games. He was a two-time Pro Bowler, led the AFL in rushing touchdowns, with 10, in 1967, and his longest run was a 54-yarder. Boozer did much of the blocking for Snell in Super Bowl III, and he gained 19 yards himself in the title game.
2. Freeman McNeil, 8,074 yards: Maybe the most dynamic running back the Jets have ever had, McNeil led the NFL in rushing in the shortened, nine-game 1982 season, gaining 786 yards, and he was a First-Team All-Pro that year. He played in 144 games with Gang Green (the most ever for a Jet running back), from 1981 to 1992, and made three Pro Bowls. McNeil averaged 4.5 yards per carry (1,798 attempts), scored 38 rushing touchdowns, with his longest run being 60 yards. He played in eight playoff games with the Jets, gaining a total of 632 yards.
1. Curtis Martin, 10,302 yards: Playing in 123 games for the Jets in eight seasons (1998 to 2005), Martin, like Snell and McNeil, made three Pro Bowls, and he was a First-Team All-Pro in 2004, when he led the league in rushing, with 1,697 yards, which is also the Jet record. He's the franchise leader in rushing touchdowns, with 58, averaged 4.0 yards per carry (2,560 attempts), and his longest run was 60 yards. Martin's No. 28 will be retired by the team on Sept. 9, and his touching Hall of Fame speech will forever be remembered.