Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin thinks Matt Forte is a terrific addition to the Jets’ backfield, even if the former Bears running back is at an age when running backs typically go into decline.
“He’s always been one of my favorite running backs,” Martin said of Forte on Tuesday during an appearance at the BTIG Charity Day event in Manhattan. “I like a big running back who still has some good lateral movement and is pretty shifty. I know [Forte] a little bit as a person, so I like his character. I definitely think he’ll be a great addition to the Jets.”
But Forte is 30 years old and was used extensively in his eight seasons with the Bears. The former second-round pick out of Tulane ran for 8,602 yards and 45 touchdowns, and topped 1,000 rushing yards in six of his eight years in Chicago. Martin doesn’t see Forte’s age as an impediment, though, and the former Jets running back speaks from experience. Martin won the NFL rushing title with 1,697 yards in 2004 at 31. He was forced into retirement the next year because of knee problems.
“I’ve always been one who believes that if your mind is in the game, I think you can get better,” said Martin, who spoke with Forte when the two were in San Francisco in February for Super Bowl 50. “I tried to do that in my career, and Matt is one of the guys who asked me what the trick was. I said it’s no trick. It’s just about wanting to be out there and wanting to constantly get better. I think he will do well with the opportunity.”
At the time the two spoke, Forte was still with the Bears, who elected not to re-sign him and let him hit free agency.
“I didn’t know he was going to the Jets at the time,” said Martin, the Jets’ all-time rushing leader with 10,302 yards and 58 touchdowns. Martin had 14,101 yards and 90 touchdowns for his career. “I never thought he’d leave Chicago.”
The way Martin sees it, Forte is the Bears’ loss and the Jets’ gain.