Jets' Mangini denies report that Martin is finished

Updated: October 31, 2006, 6:52 PM ET
Associated Press

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The New York Jets insisted Curtis Martin has not yet decided to end his season, despite a published report Tuesday that the NFL's No. 4 career rusher has told members of the team he won't return this year.

NFL all-time leading rushers

Curtis Martin finishes his career in some elite company, among the who's who at the running back position:

Player Yards
Emmitt Smith 18,355
Walter Payton 16,726
Barry Sanders 15,269
Curtis Martin 14,101
Jerome Bettis 13,662
Eric Dickerson 13,259
Tony Dorsett 12,739
Jim Brown 12,312
Marshall Faulk 12,279
Marcus Allen 12,243

"There has been no decision," coach Eric Mangini said when addressing the story in The Star-Ledger.

The newspaper, quoting anonymous teammates and a team official, reported that Martin has already said he won't be able to play this season because of a bone-on-bone condition in his right knee that has sidelined him since late last year. The report also said Martin is close to retiring.

"I don't really know who that would be or where that information came from, so it's hard for me to make a determination on it unless they sign their name to it," Mangini said.

Martin was unavailable for comment, and Eugene Parker, the running back's agent, didn't immediately return a call to his office from The Associated Press.

The 33-year-old Martin, who has rushed for 14,101 yards, was eligible to come off the physically-unable-to-perform list Oct. 16, but the team announced he'd remain on it until after the game at Cleveland last Sunday. On Monday, Mangini said he spoke with Martin, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets' medical staff last week and they chose to hold off until next week on making a decision on whether Martin would rejoin the team and practice.

Mangini said there was no change in status on that issue Tuesday.

"What I'm going by is the conversations that I've had with Curtis, and we talk quite regularly," he said. "He's talked with me and Mike and talked to the doctors, so we're now basing this decision on information and discussions that I've had specifically with Curtis -- and that's what I go by."

Many of Martin's teammates were still holding out hope that he'll return.

"Every time I ask him, he says he's doing well," linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. "I hope that if and whenever he does come back, he comes back and plays well."

If the players had any insight on the situation, they weren't saying so publicly.

"To be honest, that's not a concern of mine," receiver Laveranues Coles said. "What Curtis does is Curtis' business. All I can do is worry about Laveranues."

Added guard Pete Kendall: "I'm not really in the loop in that situation, so when I hear it from Curtis, then I'll know. Until then, we'll wait and see what happens."

The Star-Ledger report also suggested Martin has slowed his rehab and become increasingly less visible at team meetings. Not so, said Mangini.

"Curtis has been here every single day except days where I've told you about where I've personally excused him for something, and those have been few and far between. And he's been a huge asset to those guys," he said. "He's like everybody else. Every morning I look out and every morning there's Curtis, second row from the end, four or five seats in -- and he got his question right the other day."

According to NFL rules, a player on the PUP list can't be cleared to practice until after Week 6. Then, a team has three weeks to decide whether to allow that player to start practicing. The deadline for the Jets is next Tuesday.

If Martin is cleared to practice, the team would have three weeks from that date to either place him on the active roster or put him on injured reserve and end his season.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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