During his playing days Cecil Martin cleared the way for guys like Ron Dayne during his time at Wisconsin and for guys like Duce Staley and Brian Westbrook during his time in the NFL. Now that his playing days are behind him, Martin is active in the community helping pave the way for young athletes.
Martin will be in Indianapolis this weekend to not only take in his Badgers against Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship game, but to take part in an annual community service project put on by Allstate and Indy Parks and Recreation. I was able to sit down with Martin and talk some Big 10 football and hear a little more about his community project.
BSO: I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me this morning.
CM: All good, appreciate you taking time as well, this is great.
BSO: First off, I know you have a community project you are taking part in just before the Big 10 title game in Indianapolis, can you tell me more about that?
CM: Yeah, it’s called the Allstate Big 10 Good Works Day. This is the third year we have done it at the Big 10 Championship and it is all about giving back to the community. What we are going to do is bring in one team from the inner city youth program, we are going to put on a football camp, upgrade their facilities, and then at the end we are going to unveil that we are giving all the kids new uniforms.
BSO: I was just discussing with one of my professors about the importance of going back and giving to youth sports programs and young athletes, can you tell me what it means for you to be able to go back and give to youth sports programs?
CM: I can say it in a couple different ways. When I am able come back and give back in this way, it validates all the blessings and opportunities that I had. All the good people who gave themselves to me for no other reason, but to just to guide me and help me and because that I was able achieve a lot and accomplish a lot of lofty goals. For young people to have a chance to go somewhere and have productive experiences, and not just play sports, but be around good people and be around the right types of influences and guidance is so key. An entire league uses this facility and when they walk in after it is done, I think they will have a little bit more pride. The message we want them to have is that they can achieve anything they want in life.
BSO: I’ve frequently said that some of the best times I ever had during my college days were the times we got out with the kids in the community and interacted with them. We used to have field days with local schools and invited them out to campus and would have a great time. It’s all about giving back to the kids and giving to the next generation.
CM: You hit it on the head. We all know there are negative influences out there that try to scare kids away. When you are talking about a Parks and Recreation, you are talking about an area where kids can go to stay away from those elements and situations. Just putting kids around the right influences can mean the world and a make a difference.
BSO: Absolutely man, absolutely. Well, moving on, you’re a Wisconsin guy and a former running back yourself, what do you think of Melvin Gordon and should he win the Heisman?
CM: That’s an interesting question. He has broken quite a few records and the guy I blocked for, Ron Dayne , won the Heisman, but he had just broke the career rushing record that had been broken by Ricky Williams the year before, so it’s interesting that Melvin Gordon broke the single game record and had it broken the next week. I think he is deserving, but anytime the Heisman votes come out, the top three guys all deserve it. Melvin Gordon is special, but if he doesn’t get it I don’t think he will balk at it. He is the kind of leader and team player that is more concerned what we are doing as a team.
BSO: No doubt. Getting a chance to watch him every week is fun for me, he is amazing. Even on the day he broke that record, he could of run for so much more, but he wasn’t worried about running it up,
CM: I think he will have a big game this weekend, but the big battle in the Big 10 championship this weekend is going to be Ohio State’s offense vs. Wisconsin’s defense. It will be about how a dominant Wisconsin defense slows down a dominant Ohio State offense.
BSO: How do you think losing JT Barrett will affect them going forward?
CM: I think Urban Meyer has a system. I think his offense is built around a powerhouse quarterback that he has had before, but I don’t think this kid would be dressing as the third string quarterback if he wasn’t a beast. I think Wisconsin needs to worry about not letting this kid having a coming out party in the Big 10 championship game. I expect them to play good offense, and it’s more about how Wisconsin will handle this test.
BSO: How do you see the game playing out this weekend?
CM: Badgers by three.
BSO: Last question for you, there is another former Wisconsin player down in Houston named JJ Watt who is having himself quite a year, do you think he deserves to win the MVP this year?
CM: Yes, 100%. JJ Watt should win the MVP. Not only is he dominant on defense, but he is lining up on offense and scoring touchdowns. He is also taking the ball away from offenses and scoring touchdowns as well. I feel really good when players like JJ Watt and Russell Wilson are giving back to the community and being dominant on the field.
BSO: Thanks again Cecil for taking time to speak with me this morning, good luck with your community project today.
CM: Thank you very much sir, all the best. On Wisconsin, Go Badgers!