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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Faulk steps back to keep going

    By Larry Weisman, USA TODAY

    ST. LOUIS — Every picture tells a story, and sometimes it's a sad one. There is Emmitt Smith, wearing the red jersey of the Arizona Cardinals. Franco Harris squeezing out a few last carries with the Seattle Seahawks. O.J. Simpson, forlorn in a San Francisco ***** uniform. They forged their reputations in one place and diminished them in another.
    There will be no such portrait of Marshall Faulk. He understands the limits of the body, the stresses of the game and the value of an exit strategy. That is why he no longer is starting for the St. Louis Rams yet is prolonging his career in order to end it with the club.

    At 32, and beginning his 12th NFL season, Faulk will back up Steven Jackson, the Rams' No. 1 pick a year ago. Maybe St. Louis, which plays its third preseason game tonight against the Detroit Lions, would have made this change anyway, but the impetus came from Faulk, who has failed to start in only five of 160 career games with the Rams and the Indianapolis Colts.

    "I think that in a sense you just have to be honest with yourself and what you can and can't do and understand what you want to get out of this game and what you want to do," Faulk says. "And I want to win. My personal accomplishments aren't as important to me; winning is. I think the combination of myself and Steven gives us, as a team, a better opportunity to win. With the work that he's going to put in, he deserves to be the starter."

    Faulk led the Rams in rushing for a sixth consecutive season in 2004, with a modest 774 yards. It was the third consecutive year he finished below 1,000 and his fewest rushing yards since 1995 with the Colts, when he gained 587. Jackson, playing through a knee injury, showed toughness and an ability to break tackles in rushing for 673 yards and averaging 5.0 yards a carry. Faulk suddenly understood what so many players do not, will not or cannot. So he approached coach Mike Martz to talk about himself and Jackson.

    "Marshall said to me privately, 'It's time, I think.' I said, 'Time for what?' And he said, 'He needs to be the featured guy. And whatever role you want me to do, I'd be happy to do it. It's going to be tough, but I think I can really help him and still have some value for this team.' I couldn't believe it," Martz says. "But that's Marshall. So I got to thinking about it more and more, and I said, 'We're going to do this.' "

    The 5-10, 211-pound Faulk ranks 12th on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 11,987 yards, leads all running backs in career receiving yardage (6,894), is second among backs in receptions (773) and is tied for fourth in touchdowns with 135. The Rams are 27-0 since 1999 when he rushes for 100 yards in a game.

    "A long time ago I made a pact with myself that if you can't do it, you can't do it anymore and you have to leave the game. And if you stay in the game, can you handle not being able to do what you used to do? And I can accept that," Faulk says. "And I also decided that I wanted to be here. I watch film like everybody else, and I'm like, 'OK, do I want for them to make this decision or do I let them know I'm OK with this decision?' And that helps. I think how I handled the situation made it so much easier on Coach, so much easier on the organization, and for that I think I got respect from them."

    As if he didn't have it before. But this, the acknowledgement of time and wear and tear and the right thing to do, adds to his résumé.

    "I think it says a lot about him being unselfish and seeing the talent in Steven himself," says guard Adam Timmerman, an 11-year veteran. "It's good timing. Last year Steven could be his understudy. This year he's still around and can still show him some things, but I'm sure Marshall is going to get some work this year. This will make him stronger for longer."

    Jackson also values the way Faulk went about this, because Faulk remains a part of the offensive package and a mentor, not a vanquished adversary.

    "I want to be able to make Marshall a lifetime friend so that when he's done with the game I can always depend on him and lean on him in a time of need," the 6-2, 231-pound Jackson says. "We all know how smart he is about the game of football. But Marshall is a guy who knows a lot about a lot."

    Especially himself. And about how hard it can be to let go.

    "In my mind and my heart, I feel like I'm the better player," Faulk says. "But I feel like I'm better than anybody who ever played the game, but that's just how it is, that's the only way you can succeed. And in his mind, he (Jackson) feels like he's the better player and the best player who has ever played the position. You have to have that attitude to succeed, but you can't have the ego to the point where you don't understand how him starting and me playing the role helps the team."

    Look for him in passing situations. He'll see spot duty at times when his explosiveness will dovetail with Jackson's power. But don't look for him to start. Expect him to find his new role a little strange at first.

    "Without a doubt," Faulk says. "It's just weird when you hear the ones called out and I still take that step to go because it's always been like that for me. Now I have to hear formations and personnel that dictate when I'm in the game. But it's fine. It's a process."

    Not one many marquee backs specifically ask for at twilight time.

    "It's a real nice complementary mix that I don't know could survive anywhere else," Martz says. "It's very unique because Marshall is unique. I'm not sure Steven totally appreciates what's gone on in his behalf there, but one day he will. One day he will. Marshall is a pretty special guy."


  2. #2
    general counsel's Avatar
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    Re: Faulk steps back to keep going

    The single greatest ram ever to wear the horns. In the history of the team, potentially the only guy who ever played for the rams who at any one time could say that he was the very best overall football player in the nfl, not just the best at his position, not just the "leauge mvp" with all its inherent voting biases, but rather the best all around player. There were no weaknesses in faulks game, neither physical nor mental.

    Very telling statistic, 27-0 in games he rushed for 100 or more yards. Makes you wonder if maybe we shouldnt have run the ball more at times, but that of course is a topic of a different nature.

    I will stake my reputation on this: If god forbid something happens to steven jackson cant play at any given time this year, Marshall will be mentally 100% ready to step in and dont be surprised if he still has some left in the tank. In the open field, he is still a very very dangerous weapon and while i wouldnt want to see him try it for 16 games as the starter, in spot duty i believe he can still bang inside the tackles if need be.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  3. #3
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    Re: Faulk steps back to keep going

    Great article. We have been blessed to have one of the leagues best backs, and one of the leagues best individuals. I hope Martz really has some specially designed plays to showcase his strengths. Watching #28 with the ball will always be an all time favorite for me.

    Maineram - :clanram:
    and out of the ashes rise ...The Breakfast Club !

  4. #4
    morbo is offline Registered User
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    Re: Faulk steps back to keep going

    In an age of players like TO and young players Like Cedric Benson-it is AWESOME to see such an uplifting article about one of the "old guys" who always did it right. Faulk never mailed it in, and could have easily tanked in STL after getting traded from Indy-but chose to excel instead.

    One of the best players I have ever seen play. I'm in my early 20's, so I haven't seen MANY of the great backs-but Faulk's abilities on and off the field make him one of the most enduring players in sports: period.

  5. #5
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    Re: Faulk steps back to keep going

    I just hope that when Marshall decides to hang up his shoulder pads for good that he picks up a clipboard and a whistle for the RAMS. I would hate to see all that wisdom retire, or worse, become a mouth in a booth.

    Actually, I take that last part back. Knowing Marshall as we do, maybe he could be a good, honest/realistic panel member.

    Nah...
    This space for rent...

  6. #6
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    Re: Faulk steps back to keep going

    morbo, review Faulk's tenure in Indy before lumping Benson in with T.O. Indy gave Faulk up for a Coke and a smile just to get rid of him. Glad they did, don't get me wrong.

  7. #7
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    Re: Faulk steps back to keep going

    Wow, what a selfless player. Even a Seahawks fan has to respect that.

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