[With the start of training camp just a few weeks away, we are taking a look back at some "under the radar" players from year past. Today I take a look back at the career of cornerback Martin Mayhew. While his career with the Washington Redskins only spanned four years, his 13 interceptions helped the Redskins remain one of the most dominant teams in the late 1980's and early 1990's.]
To build off the opportunistic, turnover generating defense from a year ago, the Redskins drafted three defensive backs who love to snag pigskins from helpless wideouts and quarterbacks.
While it is still to be determined if any of the first years players will crack the starting lineup against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9th, if one does, it wouldn’t be the first time a rookie defensive back made noise for the franchise.
This is the story of Martin Mayhew.
Martin Mayhew was drafted by Washington with the 282nd pick in the 1988 NFL Draft out of Florida State University, a program with a proud tradition of cornerbacks, the most notable of which being former Redskin Deion Sanders.
Like a handful current Redskins, Mayhew made an immediate impact on the team despite being drafted in the later rounds.
No. 35 started seven games his rookie season and helped the Redskins go 10-6, their seventh winning record in eight years. He led all Redskins rookies with 47 tackles and two fumble recoveries. The following season, he started 15 games and recorded a career-high seven interceptions.
His premiere campaign, however, came in 1991 where he started all 16 games, had three interceptions and helped lead the Redskins to a 14-2 season and a Super Bowl XXVI victory over the Bills.
Despite having one of their most prolific offenses in franchise history with Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas and annual Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Reed, the Bills were simply overmatched by Washington’s secondary.
Alongside Hall of Famer Darrell Green, Mayhew and the rest of the Redskins defense hounded Kelly into throwing four interceptions and failing to record a single point in the first half. By the time kicker Scott Norwood tacked on Buffalo’s first three points of the game, it was too little too late. Washington’s stout defense and overpowering offense simply wasn’t going to surrender a 21 point lead.
Although he had won a Lombardi Trophy in Washington, D.C., Mayhew left the Burgundy and Gold following the 1992 season to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he played three more seasons before retiring from football.
With his playing days over, Mayhew decided that our Nation’s Capital was the place for him to start his post football career and attended Georgetown Law School, where he later received his law degree and was immediately hired by the Detroit Lions as their senior vice president.
Mayhew remained in the position for a few seasons before being promoted to general manager in 2008. He is currently in the same position and has since turned an 0-16 team to a playoff team as recently as 2011.
With brilliant success on and off the football field, Martin Mayhew sets a great example for later round players who may feel that they’ll never make the same impact they once did. Although he only played four seasons with the Redskins, his perseverance and hard work proved that even a 10th round pick can make a statement in the biggest of moments.
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