buried Martin in the depth chart at defensive tackle and waited. He hated
football and wanted to quit every day, but something would not let him. "I
must have had things inside me I don't know about," he says.
"We beat one
team 77-7," says Jett. "He might have got in that game."
One day Harvey's
sister saw him running punishment laps after practice. When he finished, he
came over to the car they drove to and from school and slammed the steering
wheel. "They said I didn't hit the blocking sled hard enough," he
snapped. "Heck, I didn't wanna hit it. It hit me back!"
Martin would not continue in football his senior year. The line coach took one
last longing look up Martin's six feet and five inches and rolled a final
grenade under the boy. "If you don't beat out Phillip Bangs for the
starting job next year," said Jett, referring to a strapping Golden Gloves
boxing champ a grade behind Martin, "I'll be the laughingstock of the
Harvey, as usual,
just frowned and said nothing. He had never heard the whisper of the challenge
from within, but he was an all-day sucker for the challenge from outside.
"I began to
play a role," he says. "I became a football player."
By the third game
of his senior year Martin was a starter. By the end of the season he was the
best lineman on a 12-1 team. Still, he was so skinny and so late-blooming that
no college waited on his signature. Jett called Boley Crawford, the offensive
line coach at East Texas State in Commerce, and convinced him that he should
offer Martin a scholarship.
At Commerce, a
very small and very dry town about 60 miles northeast of Dallas, the sheltering
of Harvey Martin continued. When he lived at home in the summers, through his
last year of college, he still honored his mother's 1 a.m. curfew. He didn't
enter a nightclub until his rookie year in the NFL. His first two college
seasons were undistinguished. "Harvey," remembers Dwight White, the
ex-Pittsburgh Steeler defensive end who roomed with him, "was a thousand
percent different than now. He was a big Baby Huey. He was so gentle, small
guys used him as an ego-builder. Take his name, even—Harvey is not exactly a
thundering name. Guys would push him around, and he felt so bad about himself
it was easy to embarrass him. Everybody borrowed money off him. He was more or
less a chump."