Vaughn Martin is not imtimidated by long odds.
As one of the few Canadians who has made the jump from the CIS to the NFL, the Chargers defensive end has faced his share of obstacles.
So despite a Monday night collapse against the Denver Broncos (a game in which Martin faced off against fellow Canadian Orlando Franklin), Martin is optimistic about the Chargers chances this season.
As Martin pointed out to CBSSports.com’s Dan McLellan, he and several of his teammates have overcome greater obstacles than blowing leads on prime-time television.
“The thing that installs the faith in us is the fact of who we are,” Martin told McLellan. “There are a lot of people playing football in America; at the grass root level, the high school level, the college level. All of them strive to get here. Some of them more athletic than the guys that are here in this league, There are 1,500 of us. We are special people.
“We are people that have been knocked down. I’m from a different country (Jamaica and Canada). Go ask [Curtis] Brinkley why he still believes. He got shot three years ago. That’s why we still believe. It’s football. We go out there and practice, and we are still mathematically tied for first place. That’s why we believe in this. It’s not that crazy. None of us in here are crazy. We are just hard workers and people that have been through things. Antonio Garay was out of football (a year and a half) with a broken leg [and shattered right ankle]. He is here. That is why we believe.”
The first Canadian University player selected in the NFL draft since fellow Western Mustang Tyrone Williams (1992, 9th round, Phoenix Cardinals; Queens’ Mike Schad, 1st round to St. Louis in 1986, was the first), Martin has emerged as a leader on the Chargers.
Martin’s rapid rise from the Canadian college ranks to becoming a premier NFL lineman took a major step forward in 2011 when he started the final 15 games at left defensive end. Martin started the Chargers’ final 15 games and posted a career-best 49 tackles, second among defensive linemen. He has started all six games this season, recording 11 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.
Martin is a native of Lucea, Jamaica where he grew up playing cricket and soccer. When Martin was nine he moved to Canada. They lived in Toronto and then London, Ontario, which is where Martin learned to play hockey and football. He began playing high school football in the 10th grade.
After starring for Team Canada at the 2006 NFL Global Junior Championships (earning All-Tournament Team status) Martin enrolled at the University of Western Ontario, where as a freshman he led the Mustangs a conference title and Canada’s collegiate national championship football game.
Martin was one of the most intelligent players to emerge from the 2009 NFL Draft, scoring a 38 on the league’s Wonderlic Test.
“If I wasn’t confident, I wouldn’t have left Canadian college football after two years,” Martin told the National Post’s Rory Barrs near the end of the 2011 season. “I am where I am supposed to be.”