"If you make up your mind to just do the right thing no matter what ... and you stick to it, which I did, this is how things can turn around. I feel as if my life turned around from what it used to be, and I think anyone has a chance."
Martin and four linemen were elected to the hall, along with one senior committee choice. He is joined by Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf, Dermontti Dawson, and senior selection Jack Butler.
Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter and Bill Parcells were among the finalists who didn't make it.
"I'm not even close to this position, I actually don't think I'd play more than four or five years without Bill Parcells," Martin said, indicating he will have his former coach present him for induction on Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.
A panel of 44 media members voted in the six men.
Martin made it for his consistency and durability, rushing for 14,101 and 90 touchdowns. He rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 seasons, the first three with New England and the others with the Jets. The 1995 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Martin won the NFL rushing title in 2004 with 1,697 yards.
Doleman and Kennedy were sackmasters from the defensive line, Doleman at end and Kennedy at tackle.
Doleman had 150 1/2 sacks in his 15 seasons, mostly with Minnesota, and was one of the prototype agile yet powerful pass rushers who dominate the game today. He made the Pro Bowl eight times and was fourth on the sacks list when he retired.
"I am totally blown away by this and humbled by it," Doleman said, adding his son, Evan, would present him for induction. "When they call your name, you're absolutely numb."
Kennedy was a force inside, both as a run stopper and in threatening quarterbacks. The 1992 Defensive Player of the Year made eight Pro Bowls, had 58 sacks an unusually high total for a tackle and spent his entire 11-season career with Seattle.
Roaf spent one season at right tackle, then the rest of his 13 seasons on the left side, making 11 Pro Bowls. He made the All-Decade team for the 1990s.
Dawson made seven Pro Bowls as the Steelers' center, that rare snapper who also could block defensive players one on one. He replaced a Hall of Famer, Mike Webster, and started for Pittsburgh for most of his 13 pro seasons.
Butler also played for the Steelers as a cornerback from 1951-59, picking off 52 passes, at the time second most in NFL history. But he was best known for his tackling skills.
"They told me I was good. I didn't know I was good," Butler said. "I never, ever, ever thought I would be here."
Guard Will Shields didn't get in the only first-year eligible player to make the 15-man finals. Shields started all but one of the 224 games in his 14 seasons in Kansas City.
Bettis also fell short. He was the 1993 Offensive Rookie of the Year with the Rams who retired in 2006 after winning his only Super Bowl with the Steelers. He is the NFL's No. 5 career rusher.
Parcells coached the Giants to Super Bowl titles in the 1987 and 1991 games and also lost the 1997 Super Bowl with New England. He coached the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, too.
Carter is the No. 4 career receiver with 1,101 in 16 seasons with three teams.
Others not voted in were receivers Tim Brown and Andre Reed, defensive end/linebackers Kevin Greene and Charles Haley, defensive back Aeneas Williams, and former 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo Jr.
The other senior finalist, guard Dick Stanfel, was not chosen, either.
Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame by year of induction (x-old timer/senior nominee):
2012 x-Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin, Willie Roaf.
2011 Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, x-Chris Hanburger, x-Les Richter, Ed Sabol, Deion Sanders, Shannon Sharpe.
2010 Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, x-Dick LeBeau, x-Floyd Little, John Randle, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith.
2009 x-Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson, Rod Woodson.
2008 Fred Dean, Darrell Green, Art Monk, x-Emmitt Thomas, Andre Tippett, Gary Zimmerman.
2007 x-Gene Hickerson, Michael Irvin, Bruce Matthews, x-Charlie Sanders, Thurman Thomas, Roger Wehrli.
2006 Troy Aikman, Harry Carson, x-John Madden, Warren Moon, Reggie White, x-Rayfield Wright.
2005 x-Benny Friedman, Dan Marino, x-Fritz Pollard, Steve Young.
2004 x-Bob Brown, x-Carl Eller, John Elway, Barry Sanders.
2003 Marcus Allen, Elvin Bethea, Joe DeLamielleure, James Lofton, x-Hank Stram.
2002 x-George Allen, Dave Casper, Dan Hampton, Jim Kelly, John Stallworth.
2001 x-Nick Buoniconti, Marv Levy, Mike Munchak, Jackie Slater, Lynn Swann, Ron Yary, Jack Youngblood.
2000 Howie Long, Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana, Dan Rooney, x-Dave Wilcox.
1999 Eric Dickerson, Tom Mack, Ozzie Newsome, x-Billy Shaw, Lawrence Taylor.
1998 Paul Krause, x-Tommy McDonald, Anthony Munoz, Mike Singletary, Dwight Stephenson.
1997 Mike Haynes, Wellington Mara, Don Shula, Mike Webster.
1996 x-Lou Creekmur, Dan Dierdorf, Joe Gibbs, Charlie Joiner, Mel Renfro.
1995 Jim Finks, x-Henry Jordan, Steve Largent, Lee Roy Selmon, Kellen Winslow.
1994 Tony Dorsett, Bud Grant, Jimmy Johnson, x-Leroy Kelly, Jackie Smith, Randy White.
1993 Dan Fouts, Larry Little, Chuck Noll, Walter Payton, Bill Walsh.
1992 Lem Barney, Al Davis, John Mackey, John Riggins.
1991 Earl Campbell, John Hannah, x-Stan Jones, Tex Schramm, Jan Stenerud.
1990 Buck Buchanan, Bob Griese, Franco Harris, Ted Hendricks, Jack Lambert, Tom Landry, x-Bob St. Clair.
1989 Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Art Shell, Willie Wood.
1988 Jack Ham, Mike Dikta, Fred Biletnikoff, Alan Page.
1987 Larry Csonka, Len Dawson, Joe Greene, x-John Henry Johnson, Jim Langer, Don Maynard, Gene Upshaw.
1986 Paul Hornung, Ken Houston, Willie Lanier, Fran Tarkenton, x-Doak Walker.
1985 x-Frank Gatski, Joe Namath, Pete Rozelle; O.J. Simpson, Roger Staubach.
1984 Willie Brown, Mike McCormack, Charley Taylor, x-Arnie Weinmeister.
1983 Bobby Bell, Sid Gillman, Sonny Jurgensen, Bobby Mitchell, Paul Warfield.
1982 Doug Atkins, Sam Huff, x-George Musso, Merlin Olsen.
1981 x-Morris (Red) Badgro, George Blanda, Willie Davis, Jim Ringo.
1980 Herb Adderley, David (Deacon) Jones, Bob Lilly, Jim Otto.
1979 Dick Butkus, Yale Lary, Ron Mix, Johnny Unitas.
1978 Lance Alworth, Weeb Ewbank, x-Alphonse (Tuffy) Leemans, Ray Nitschke, Larry Wilson.
1977 Frank Gifford, Forrest Gregg, Gale Sayers, Bart Starr, x-Bill Willis.
1976 x-Ray Flaherty, Len Ford, Jim Taylor.
1975 Roosevelt Brown, George Connor, Dante Lavelli, Lenny Moore.
1974 x-Tony Canadeo, Bill George, Lou Groza, Dick (Night Train) Lane.
1973 Raymond Berry, Jim Parker, Joe Schmidt.
1972 Lamar Hunt, Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson, x-Clarence (Ace) Parker.
1971 Jim Brown, Bill Hewitt, Frank (Bruiser) Kinard, Vince Lombardi, Andy Robustelli, Y.A. Tittle, Norm Van Brocklin.
1970 Jack Christiansen, Tom Fears, Hugh McElhenny, Pete Pihos.
1969 Glen (Turk) Edwards, Earle (Greasy) Neale, Leo Nomellini, Joe Perry, Ernie Stautner.
1968 Cliff Battles, Art Donovan, Elroy (Crazylegs) Hirsch, Wayne Millner, Marion Motley, Charley Trippi, Alex Wojciechowicz.
1967 Chuck Bednarik, Charlie Bidwill, Paul Brown, Bobby Layne, Dan Reeves, Ken Strong, Joe Stydahar, Emlen Tunnell.
1966 Bill Dudley, Joe Guyon, Arnie Herber, Walt Kiesling, George McAfee, Steve Owen, Hugh (Shorty) Ray, Clyde (Bulldog) Turner.
1965 Guy Chamberlain, John (Paddy) Driscoll, Dan Fortmann, Otto Graham, Sid Luckman, Steve Van Buren, Bob Waterfield.
1964 Jimmy Conzelman, Ed Healy, Clark Hinkle, Roy (Link) Lyman, August (Mike) Michalske, Art Rooney, George Trafton.
1963 Sammy Baugh, Bert Bell, Joe Carr, Earl (Dutch) Clark, Red Grange, George Halas, Mel Hein, Wilbur (Pete) Henry, Cal Hubbard, Don Hutson, Earl (Curly) Lambeau, Tim Mara, George Preston Marshall, Johnny (Blood) McNally, Bronko Nagurski, Ernie Nevers, Jim Thorpe..