Derrick Martin hopes to restore tradition to Thomas Jefferson football

Thomas Jefferson football Derrick Martin

New Thomas Jefferson coach Derrick Martin, pictured following a Super Bowl win with the New York Giants in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Derrick Martin)

Tradition. Above all else, that's what new Thomas Jefferson football coach Derrick Martin is looking to restore with the Spartans.

Martin graduated form Jefferson in 2003 and continued his football career at Wyoming. He would come back from time to time, mostly to put on a football camp for the high school during the summer.

The Spartans, once a power program that won Class 4A championships in 1980 and 1989, had their last winning season in 2009. That was a year before Martin would win the first of his two Super Bowl rings.

Now, under his guidance, the Spartans look to regain the dominant seasons they had while he was lining up at quarterback and cornerback for T.J.

"We had a couple of guys (back then) who were fortunate enough to play in the NFL," Martin said. "But we had great student-athletes, as well, that I was able to go to school with and still hold those relations with that could bring more than that football aspects."

That's a huge priority for Martin in his return. He doesn't want to just coach football. He understands that by taking the role as head football coach, he becomes an educator on life. Academics was a huge part in his journey to become the man he is today.

He was, after all, a four-time honor roll student as well as a Mayor's Mile High Academic Scholar. And he considers Thomas Jefferson as one of the big reasons that he was able to reach those accomplishments.

"Being able to go that school, know the system, know the players that went to school there, I feel like I have that to hold on to," he said. "You have to show the kids that if you don't play football past this year, there are still great things you can do."

But what about those who plan to continue their football careers after high school?

Bringing in Martin can be seen as a huge advantage for them seeing as how he reached the highest of levels a football player can reach.

His ability to make it at the collegiate level was never in doubt. He originally committed to the University of Colorado to play for Gary Barnett, but upon hearing that he might not see the field for two years, he opted to attend Wyoming where he stepped right on the field and became an instant contributor.

He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2006 and and enjoyed a nine-year career in the league. In the process, he came away with two Super Bowl rings. He won one with the Green Bay Packers (2010) and the New York Giants (2011).

Now it's time for Martin to take all the lessons he has learned over the years, both in life and in football, and pass them on to the next generation of athletes. His journey, his roadmap gives a Spartans team loaded with potential a chance to take a the 2016 season one to remember.

"We're playing to reach the pinnacle," Martin said of his team, which now plays in Class 3A. "I was fortunate enough to do it twice and with that it lends that it wasn't about being the best player, it was about being on the best team. Being on the best team, you also have to have the right attitude."

One would argue that having the best team means having a high quantity of talented players. But that may not be the case. Next fall, when perhaps the greatest Spartan of all time steps back on the field as the leader of the program, Martin intends to prove it.

"I would hear all the stories and all the tales," Martin said. "The talent was still coming there. It was something out of (the players' control) that they really couldn't help."

Thomas Jefferson has lost something since its heyday. To Martin, it's a sense a tradition that he felt when he was there.

It's a sense of tradition that he hopes to restore.