By: Will Burchfield
Conspiracy theories abounded in the wake of Sam Martin’s non-football ankle injury that kept him out for the first six games of the season, and the punter heard them all.
But Martin, who returned to action in the Lions’ loss to the Steelers on Sunday night, doesn’t care to set the record straight.
“No, all you need to know is it’s not what everyone thinks. I wasn’t doing anything stupid. Just a freak accident. It’s not even worth the story,” Martin said on Monday. “Could have happened to anyone, any day, anywhere.”
The Lions placed Martin on the non-football injury list at the start of training camp. Martin thereafter declined all interview requests and Jim Caldwell refused to say what happened.
One theory that gained traction on the internet was that Martin injured himself while being pulled by his dog on a skateboard. Not true, Martin said.
“It was not skateboarding, it wasn’t cliff diving, it had nothing to do with my dog, no staircases. I mean, I read them all. I read all the stories, guys, and you guys were about 0-10,” Martin said.
When it was pointed out to him that none of the assembled reporters endorsed those theories, Martin said, “Whatever, whoever the hell said it, all those things.”
“You don’t fabricate, but you read about it, didn’t you? I’m not saying it was any of you guys, whoever, whatever. Stories catch fire because of the media,” said Martin.
If the injury wasn’t a big deal, as Martin insists, why not clear the air?
“Just because it’s not worth a story. Why make something out of it? I’m back, got through it, I’m healthy. That’s all that matters now,” he said.
Still, if the rumors annoy him, why not put them to rest?
“They don’t annoy me. Do I look annoyed? I’m smiling,” Martin said. “It’s just irrelevant. That’s the best word for it, it’s absolutely irrelevant. I think if it was relevant, Coach Caldwell would have told you about it.”
Martin said dealing with conspiracy theories and false reports is simply part of playing in the NFL.
“That’s the nature of the beast, that’s the nature of the NFL, that’s the nature of fans, that’s the nature of the media. You just take it in stride and focus on the important thing — getting healthy and playing again. That’s exactly what I did and that’s what I’m doing now,” he said.
Did Martin learn a lesson from the episode?
“No, it legit could have happened to any one of you guys. And that’s it,” he said.
Martin, who signed a four-year contract extension with the Lions last September, is coming off a season in which he set a franchise record with a net punting average of 44.2 yards. He was a Pro Bowl alternate for the first time in his career.