Doug Martin: 'Muscle Hamster has to stop'

NEW ORLEANS -- The best NFC South quote of Super Bowl week came Friday afternoon.

I was sitting on radio row waiting for my turn with Doug Martin when the Tampa Bay running back delivered an order to fans in an interview with WDAE’s Steve Duemig.

Martin said he’s more than fine with fans calling him “Dougernaut," “The Dougernator’’ or “Muscle and Hustle.’’ In fact, he’d encourage the use of any of those nicknames.

But there’s one nickname that Martin doesn’t like.

“Muscle Hamster has to stop,’’ Martin said in a very firm tone.

Duemig laughed, I laughed and I’m sure listeners laughed. I think Martin laughed, but only a little.

As Martin came away from his interview with Duemig and began chatting with me, I got the sense that he’s somewhat serious about putting an end to the nickname that’s followed him since college.

“I’ve been trying for the whole year and it hasn’t helped,’’ Martin said. “There are shirts and hats and all sorts of things. Half of my teammates are helping to keep it going and that doesn’t help.’’

But there’s at least a chance Martin could add a new title Saturday night. He could be the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. He’s one of the finalists for the award.

“It’s an honor just to be considered and just to be here,’’ Martin said.

Martin realizes his chances of picking up the award might be slim because he’s up against quarterbacks Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Quarterbacks are more visible than running backs and usually win popularity contests.

But even if Martin doesn’t win, that doesn’t take away from a sensational rookie season. He rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 49 passes for 472 yards and one touchdown.

“I was happy with my season,’’ Martin said. “We didn’t make the playoffs and I’m not happy about that part. But, overall, I’m happy with it. I’m already looking forward to next season and hitting the ground running.’’

And maybe, after his plea, Martin finally can run away from the nickname he despises.