Moment #11 -- One of the Best
--Afterthought, Part II
The second player that showed his stuff during the Tennessee game was the unheralded Glenn Martinez.
Like Hall, Martinez had been asked to fill in. Walker was a no show, and Stokely was starting to show the wear and tear of #1 receiver rigors.
The first thing that Martinez did was throw a beauty of a block that was key to a 48 yard TD by Brandon Stokely. Obviously, Martinez had shown up to play. The next thing he did was to jaunt for an 80 yd punt return for a touchdown, the first for the Broncos in four years. His 4.29 speed was enough to put him in the endzone about 25 yards ahead of the nearest Titan. When he got there he just arched his back and spread his arms as wide as they could go, like he wanted to embrace the whole world.
The 80 yd punt return fit in perfectly with the theme of the night, which was "no TD less than 40 yds long," and it kept the momentum going through a string of games where Martinez pounced on his limited chances. Because that how it had to be.
What happens when you are a 25-year-old player from Saginaw Valley State is you hold chances close. Martinez signed with Pittsburgh as an undrafted rookie in 2004. He was cut on the eve of the season. He was signed by the Lions in January 2005 and was cut by the Lions six times in 20 months. Add a stint in NFL Europe, and Martinez had been through the NFL grindhouse.
80 yds for a TD doesn't seem that far in hindsight.
Should Martinez be overlooked?
We acquired a lot of WRs in the offseason. Colbert, Parker, Jackson, Sam, Royal, Shepherd. We lost only one, in Walker. Something has got to give.
I'm guessing it won't be Martinez though. It is easy to get sidetracked by the latest news and to forget production, when all production is limited, but the tape doesn't lie: Martinez laid claim to the #3 WR spot in 2007, and only the experimental use of an expensive, injured Walker threatened his playing time.
And in Shanny's offensive system, WR is such a complementary asset, that I think history will repeat itself and a certain type of WR will dominate the roster when the smoke clears: guys with good hands. And one of those guys is Martinez. Shanny will put a priority on WRs who give the msot of themselves to this team, and who can be counted on if Cutler can get teh ball close to them. In fact Martinez reminds me an awful lot of Rod Smith in some ways. And on this team, I think those ways might be the most important.
I know what you are thinking: "Styg, don't even think of comparing Glenn Martinez to Rod Smith!" Well, you could be right. Martinez isn't as big as Smith.
But Smith too, was a small school nobody. Smith, too, barely made a final cut to make it onto the Broncos Practice squad. And both players, when they got a chance to come off the practice squad and help their team, came up big. Smith makes a catch for a TD in a game against the Redskins, that frankly, he had no chance of catching. And Martinez returns a punt for a TD in a game where you are lying if you were thinking we were due for a STs TD. If anything, the Martinez TD seems a whole degree more unbelievable, since at least Rod had Elway throwing him the ball.
Smith spent his career proving that he was not to be defined by his past, but by who he was at that moment, and that is tireless work that never lets you rest. Martinez has traveled much the same path, and faced the same decision: do it now or go home. He did it, and is it so inconceivable that, like Rod, he will keep on fighting?