Newly acquired offensive lineman Jonathan Martin said all the right things about his football career in a Thursday evening introductory conference call. The newest San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman said, “I have to earn my way on the team,” and that he’s “open to anything,” including spending time at either guard position for the first time in his life.
He’s been spending time at Stanford, “grinding” in the weight room. He’s also been working on earning his Bachelor’s in Classics (the same major as Dave Flemming, another Stanford alum and one of the most accomplished under-40 broadcasters in the country).
When he spoke about his studies, it became clear how he could stick out like a sore thumb in quite a few NFL locker rooms.
“Andrew Phillips was the left guard I played next to for two years at Stanford. Big into Classics, Classics Major. I took a class on the Greek Gods, and I liked it,” said Martin, who admitted that he can’t read Greek.
“I’m functional in Latin,” he said.
If we’re bringing up sentences Richie Incognito would never utter, that last quote would have to break into the top 10 at the very least.
I was furiously trying to transcribe the books Martin mentioned reading, and the only one I could gather was Plato’s “Symposium.” Maybe I would fit in with the rest of the Dolphins offensive line better than Martin, who said the trade to the 49ers creates “a blank slate for me. I’m looking to revitalize my career.”
Many believe Martin quit on his teammates. That he doesn’t like football, let alone love it. If he talked much about making his way through what I’m assuming is a rather challenging major at one of the nation’s best universities, that may have caused some in Miami to look askance at the former second round pick.
He doesn’t need to be here. He thinks he’s better than us.
Or, maybe not. It could be much more complicated than that, or simpler — like a simple disagreement between friends that got way too personal. Regardless, Martin is happy to have received a “warm welcome from the entire 49ers community,” including new teammates like Joe Staley (texted) and Anthony Davis (tweeted), as well as 49ers fans who hope Martin can turn his NFL career around.
Martin seems to have gained confidence from his recent time at Stanford, and not just from his time in the classroom or weight room.
“All those guys are my close friends. Andrew Luck, Richard Sherman, Chase Thomas, David DeCastro. They’ve never doubted me. They know me as a person. They know me as an individual, as a football player,” Martin said. “They’ve all had success so far in the pros, so I’m going to try to continue with my own personal success and team success.”
Martin is back to a place where he feels like he has the respect of his peers, but along with Trent Baalke it took the coach who recruited him out of high school to give him the second chance many observers thought he’d never receive.
“It means a lot when someone with that much credibility has your back,” Martin said when a reporter asked about Jim Harbaugh. “I’m excited to be a member of one of his teams.”
The 49ers offered up a conditional 2015 seventh round pick, which goes to Miami only if Martin makes the 49ers’ 53-man roster. In other words, they have nothing to lose. Martin, on the other hand, has the opportunity of his life: to prove Incognito and a host of others wrong. If he succeeds, we’ll have one of the best “Revenge of the Nerd” stories yet … and after his playing days, maybe Martin can translate that script into Latin.