Curtis Martin, Pats & chicken soup

DALLAS -- Running back Curtis Martin, who is one of the finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, held a conference call with reporters today. He warmed up when asked about the New England chapter of his career (1995-97), revealing that he spoke with Patriots owner Robert Kraft this morning.

"He called just to congratulate me on my career. He said 'Curtis, when you came in as a rookie, we had a really good chance to get to know one another.' I had a chance to go over to his house for the Jewish holidays and I remember how his wife [Myra] used to make this chicken soup that was my favorite," Martin said.

"He talked about what it meant to him for me to be there, and how much he appreciated me as a player, and more importantly as a person. It meant a lot to me because I've always respected the Kraft family and I always respected the Patriots organization. I think the Patriots organization was the best foundation I could have had as an NFL player. The relationship I had with Mr. Kraft, the relationship I had with the head coach Bill Parcells, and the fact we were in Foxborough there were few distractions for me coming from the city. Looking back on it, there was no other team I would have rather spent those first three years."

Martin ended up signing with the Jets as a restricted free agent in 1998, but said he had been totally open to staying with the Patriots. He didn't want to go to the Jets, although Parcells' presence there altered his mindset a bit.

"Up until I got the call [from Parcells], I had planned on being a New England Patriot," he said. "I never thought I would leave there for my entire career."

Martin said that if he is elected to the Hall of Fame, Parcells will be his presenter.