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NFL legend stresses importance of giving back at EPC meeting

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George Martin (center), former defensive lineman for the New York Giants, who was the featured speaker at the EPC’s Sept. 25 meeting at MetLife Stadium, with (from left) Seth Pemsler of the Idaho Potato Commission, Eastern Produce Council Executive Director Susan McAleavey Sarlund, EPC President Marianne Soto of Wakefern, Tanya Edwards and Anna Kirsch of Avocados from Mexico, and Jamie Bowen and Dave Rhodes of the IPC.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — George Martin was larger than life when he chased down quarterbacks and cut down running backs as a defensive lineman for the New York Giants. Now, 30 years into his retirement, he remains larger than life for a different reason.

Martin returned to his stomping grounds Sept. 25, here, when he addressed the Eastern Produce Council membership at the council’s dinner meeting at MetLife Stadium. In his talk, he stressed the importance of working hard and giving back.

The son of a sharecropper, Martin spoke of his underprivileged childhood in rural South Carolina and the need to work hard to improve his situation. His hard work paid off when he was offered a scholarship to the University of Oregon. An eventual 11th round draft pick by the New York Giants, he again had to prove himself worthy of sticking with the team. He played his entire 14-year career with the Giants and was one of the first players selected to the team's Ring of Honor. In retirement, he also served as executive director of the National Football League Players Alumni Association.

But in retirement, Martin is particularly well known for his charitable work, especially his Journey for 9/11 to raise money for first responders. In that endeavor, Martin began on Sept. 16, 2007, at the George Washington Bridge in New York and trekked more than 3,000 miles over the course of nine months, eventually reaching San Diego in June of 2008. In all, he raised nearly $3 million to benefit those emergency personnel who suffered or perished in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Martin emphasized to those in attendance at the Sept. 25 meeting that his involvement in charitable causes is not for personal recognition, but rather because he is compelled to give back after having received blessings during his personal and professional life, and he urged EPC attendees to do the same.

The meeting was co-sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission and Avocados from Mexico.