Former New York Jets running back Curtis Martin didn't always wear the jersey number 28. But when he did adopt the number, he did so for religious reasons, according to a recent interview on NBCSN's Pro Football Talk.
The 41-year-old Hall of Famer told the interviewer that when the number became available he sought consultation from a pastor on whether to adopt it or not.
"I was speaking to someone about what numbers, what options I had. And at the time I was speaking to a pastor and I told him what numbers were available between 26 and 28, and he said 28. He said because that is a really important Bible verse. It’s Deuteronomy 28, and he said that it talks about the blessings for obedience and all that."
Not only did Martin adopt the number on his jersey, he told NBCSN, but he also developed a ritual surrounding the Biblical passage. "I took the number and Deuteronomy 28 became my only ritual before every game," Martin said. "I would read it and that’s the reason why I wore number 28."
Deuteronomy 28 is largely a passage on God's blessings that arrive through obedience. It begins:
And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.
Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
Martin retired from the New York Jets in 2005 and joined the Hall of Fame in 2012.