As Doug Martin fights to get back to the heights of his rookie year, he continues to run away from that unique nickname. You know the one.
"The name 'Muscle Hamster' is the worst nickname possibly ever given to somebody," Martin told USA Today at Bucs minicamp on Wednesday. "I hope it changes, and I hope that I play to a level where my nickname changes. That's what my goals are."
This is probably the first time in NFL history a player's motivations for success are driven, in no small part, by the desire to acquire an improved moniker. The Bucs put Martin on notice this offseason when the team opted not to pick up the option year on his rookie contract. General manager Jason Licht told Martin to see it as a good thing.
"I hit him right between the eyes and said, 'Hey, before you see this, we're not picking up your option, but this could be a good thing for you,' " Licht said. "'This doesn't mean that we don't want you here long-term. It just means basically you have a carrot in front of you right now. Hopefully, we're sitting here in a few months talking about an extension.'"
"2012 was a great year and I've had injuries and it's been a roller coaster through my career," Martin said. "But I have a new start. I feel great. I'm having fun out here, and I know this year's going to be pretty good."
Martin was one of the league's top all-purpose backs as a rookie, piling up more than 1,900 yards and 12 touchdowns. Martin would probably let his mom call him Muscle Hamster if it meant he could get back to being that guy.