All of us have different—and often unique—reasons why we transitioned into our current post-football jobs.
Former offensive lineman Chris Martin’s motivation was a tragic one…tragic in the worst possible sense. As a result, the 33-year old Martin recently was appointed the newest member of the Seminole County Fire Department in central Florida.
“On April 6, 2016, my wife Christina and I found our two-year old son Gunner lying at the bottom of our pool,” Martin recently told local media outlet ClickOrlando. “We had a pool in our backyard but weren’t aware of the different preventative measures we could have taken at the time. That’s when I realized that’s what I want to do when I was done with football.”
The Martin’s founded The Gunner Martin Foundation to provide swim lessons for young kids and teach parents with pools how to make them safer. CDC data ranks drowning the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1-4 in Florida.
“If another kid never drowns in Florida, especially Seminole County, that would be good,” says Martin, who along with wife Christina are the parents of two young girls. “If we could live in that perfect world, it would be great. But, unfortunately, the odds are against Floridians in that situation just because it’s Florida.”
Martin is a Florida native and played college ball at the University of Central Florida. He originally signed with the Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2014. He later was in training camps, or on practice squads, with four other NFL teams but never played in a regular season game.
“It’s not an excuse,” Martin says, “but I was dealing with Gunner’s death while trying to get back into the NFL in 2016. As much as I tried to act like it wasn’t weighing me down, that was something you talk about all the time.”
Martin is ready to take on the responsibilities of a first responder, even if it involves possible young drowning victims.
“If I were able to help prevent a young child’s drowning,” Martin explains, “and be there to try to revive and, hopefully, bring him back, I would love for the opportunity. Why? Because I’ve been there.”
We at NFL Alumni greatly admire Chris and Christina’s fortitude and willingness to help others. We only wish they did not have to suffer the loss of a child but, as Chris has said (and we all know), “It’s not a perfect world.”