Sports Business Journal did a terrific “In-Depth” examination on athlete behavior. The whole thing is worth reading, but the interview with former Jets and Patriots RB and the NFL’s fourth all-time leading rusher, Curtis Martin, stands out. Unfortunately you have to have to subscribe to the Journal or its sister publication, Sports Business Daily, to read the entire interview. Below are a couple of Martin's answers:
On being a role model
I take being a role model very seriously. I take it just as seriously as I take my performance on the field. So in the same way that I prepare for a game, I prepare my life—the way I do things, the way I think—in a manner that is worthy of being a role model. I realize the position I’m in and the influence I have, not only on my teammates, but on guys around the NFL who might look up to me in sort of a big brother way. So being the proper example for kids and fans and colleagues and friends and family is tremendously important.
On the pressure put on pro athletes by families
The type of pressure that friends and family can put on you is unbelievable. One thing that I always try to preach to some of the younger athletes is to get good at saying no. Most of us feel so obligated because we are the only one, probably in our entire generation of our family tree, who has had this kind of success. The whole tree comes after you. When to say no and when to say yes, on top of trying to have a successful career, is overwhelming many times...One of the most difficult parts of being a professional athlete is dealing with that whole tree coming after you, and dealing with the pressure of taking care of not only your own family, but every family that’s even close to you. If you don’t have anyone to help you sift through that process, it’s extremely hard…I think the general public equates wisdom with money, and there’s nothing further from the truth. People wonder, with all the money you make, how could you do something that stupid? I think that more money opens you up to doing something that stupid.