Jocks aren’t known for giving eloquent speeches, but damned if former NFL running back Curtis Martin didn’t give one seriously rousing talk Aug. 4 upon his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He opened by saying he never really liked football and could count on one hand the number of games he’s watched on television. He added with a laugh that even though he was entering the Hall of Fame as a running back, he wasn’t a big fan of running, either. Then he went on to explain how he found the drive to become a great player anyway: In part, it was to save his mother, who he watched being literally tortured by his father.
There was rich detail, deep feeling, and a promising message to be developed, about how everything you do should be directed in the service of others, and that in such a context, all work becomes meaningful, even that which we are not personally passionate about …
Alas, Martin then drifted off and told some dull stories about playing for Coach Bill Parcells, about taking a hard hit and wandering into the wrong huddle, about outworking every rookie who came along to take his job, about the need to always improve—all the standard stuff—before he awkwardly returned to the big picture and spoke of his relationship with God.
Martin is an eloquent man who knows how to organize his story. All he needed was a speechwriter to shorten his talk by half, to tie it together and write a strong finish. And then, instead of a better-than-average-and-moving-in-parts Hall of Fame induction speech, he might have delivered something really enduring.
You believe in the need to keep improving, Curtis Martin? Write to me and I’ll find you a speechwriter to turn your induction speech into something you can give everywhere you go, to help people in pain. I’m always here, at firstname.lastname@example.org. —DM