Faulk plays a realist in his new role
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Saturday, Nov. 19 2005
Marshall Faulk broke into hearty laughter when told that in Joe Vitt's
estimation, he had the makings of a great coach.
"I don't know, man," Faulk said, shaking his head. "I don't rule anything out.
You never know when you're done what you're going to do to combat those
The intensity of those feelings has gripped the New Orleans native for almost
three decades. "I've played football since I was 6," Faulk said Friday in a
rare one-on-one interview. "I've put a lot of hours in, a lot of hard work and
learned a lot of lessons playing this game."
Now, at age 32 and with 11 1/2 NFL seasons in his rear-view mirror, Faulk peers
down the road. He ruminates often over how much longer he'll play. "All the
time," he said. "All the time."
Faulk came to training camp in top shape mainly because of a surgery-free
offseason. "I wasn't rehabbing anything; I was just working out," said the
5-foot-10, 211-pound San Diego State product. "It allowed me to come back
fresher and feeling better than I've felt in maybe the previous three years."
He also arrived with a different assignment. Shortly after last season, Faulk
and coach Mike Martz agreed on a new approach: Let Steven Jackson, the team's
first-round draft pick in 2004, take over as the No. 1 running back. Faulk
would have a "significant supporting role" and perhaps extend his career, Martz
Faulk, who also took a significant pay cut to free up salary-cap space for the
team, was coming off his least productive season since 1996, his third year
with Indianapolis. He rushed 195 times for 774 yards and caught 50 passes for
310 yards in 2004. He scored four touchdowns.
"You understand the circumstances, and you understand what you can and can't
do. And that's the reality of it," Faulk said. "You have to come to grips with
that part of your life, not just in football but in life, and accept that."
The turning point
A cathartic episode in 1998 helped cement Faulk's ardent team-first attitude.
He had piled up 267 yards for Baltimore, but the Colts lost 38-31 after Faulk
blew a route and Peyton Manning's last-minute pass was intercepted.
Coach Jim Mora lit into Faulk during the team's tape review the next day.
Afterward, Faulk slipped into an assistant coach's office and dissolved into
"I was crushed ... I mean, crushed," he told Sports Illustrated. "I knew ... I
had let my teammates down, and I knew I never wanted to experience that feeling
again. In the past, I would've responded, 'Look at the stats; what more could I
have done?' This time, I knew it wasn't about that.
"My neglect had affected the team's ability to win. It had probably happened
before, but this was the first time I felt accountable. It was the first time I
The Colts, who drafted Faulk second overall in 1994, traded him to the Rams on
April 15, 1999, for a pair of draft choices. His impact was immediate and
Faulk rolled up an NFL-record 2,429 total yards (1,381 rushing, 1,048
receiving) as he and grocery-clerk-turned- quarterback Kurt Warner spearheaded
a storybook season. The Rams, 4-12 in 1998, went 13-3 and beat Tennessee 23-16
in Super Bowl XXXIV.
In seven seasons here, Faulk has set a number of franchise records and pushed
himself high onto several NFL charts. The seven-time Pro Bowler, named the
league's MVP after the 2000 season, heads into Sunday's game vs. Warner's
Arizona Cardinals as the No. 10 rusher in league history (12,129 yards). He has
18,886 total yards and has scored 135 touchdowns.
The numbers Faulk has accumulated this year pale in comparison: 142 rushing
yards, 173 receiving yards and only one touchdown. Jackson, meanwhile, has 729
yards on the ground and 263 receiving.
Yet Faulk has no complaints. "It's fine; it's fine," he said. "Me accepting my
role and embracing that and doing all that I can to help the team has allowed
us to be a better offense."
Jackson said, "It's been a smooth transition."
Faulk said Jackson "makes it possible for us to work together. Some young guys
come in and they feel threatened and they feel like they have to be the guy.
Once he understood that I was only out for the team's best interests, then it
was easy for he and I to be friends instead of competing against each other."
Vitt, the Rams' interim head coach, stressed that Faulk is contributing in more
ways now. "He's one of the all-time great players in this game," Vitt said.
"And I think what he really does best at this time in his career, he can really
set protections" in the passing game. Faulk's ability to pick up blitzing
defenders, grunt work for most running backs, has long been a strong asset.
Ego vs. reality
Faulk will decide after the season whether he'll return for another. "I'm year
to year," he said. When it comes time to walk away, he hopes that it will be
because he has lost his zest for the game, not because "my physical abilities
totally deteriorate," he said.
In any case, he's determined not to join the long line of illustrious athletes
who stubbornly stuck around longer than they should have and diminished their
careers in the process. Faulk acknowledged that he took a long stride toward
the finish line when he stepped aside for Jackson and that he did so without
"I don't let my ego get in the way of reality," Faulk said. "I understand guys
who do hold on. You don't want to accept the fact that you haven't take a step
backward, that Mother Nature has just caught up to you.
"I just choose not to be one of those guys."
Re: Faulk plays a realist in his new role
Haven't I been saying this for a year? I feel great knowing that someone who actually knows the man is thinking the same way....
Originally Posted by RamWraith
Re: Faulk plays a realist in his new role
Your not the only one Sam.I'd also like to throw Aeneas Williams into the coaching mix.