By Kathleen Nelson
Tuesday, Jun. 13 2006

For the past few years, Marshall Faulk has heard the question of retirement as
a whisper. Recently, though, the question has grown louder and more persistent
because of the departure of Mike Martz, the arrival of Scott Linehan and a knee
that has been slow to respond to treatment.

"When you get to Year 13, when you get a coaching change, you look at the
bigger picture of things," Faulk said. "You say, 'Are we going to be playing
for a championship?' If that doesn't seem possible, then you start thinking
about other things. It's a thought that for the last two or three years has
crept into my mind."

The answer to the question remains elusive, Faulk said, despite rumors that he
already has made up his mind.

"That's second-hand. It didn't come from me," he said. As for an answer, he
said, "There's no timetable."

Faulk spoke at his fund-raising tournament Monday at Old Hickory Golf Club, the
proceeds of which will be used for his charitable endeavors in St. Louis. Among
the invitees were teammates Marc Bulger, Torry Holt and Dane Looker, as well as
Grant Fuhr, Eric Dickerson and LaDanian Thomlinson. Despite the injury and some
decent golfers in the crowd, Faulk expected to hold his own on the course.

Walking and golf are "not cumbersome to my knees at all," he said. "I can run
straight ahead. It's side to side that caused the setback. Other than that, I'm

Faulk underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knees over the winter. One knee has
responded; the other hasn't. The injury prevented Faulk from participating in
Rams' minicamp over the weekend and is one of the major reasons the question of
retirement looms larger than in the past.

"I'm kind of a foreigner to my own body," he said. "I thought I knew this piece
of work here. As you get a little older, you kind of become a little distant
with your body. You wake up, and things don't feel the way they used to."

Learning from the past, Faulk said, he decided not to rush back from surgery.
"The thing that I'm not doing that I used to do is accelerate it, do more to
get back quicker," he said. "I've done that. I've had surgery in the season,
come back and played. I don't think I could do that right now. I'm really
taking my time with it and allowing it to let me know, 'We can go,' or 'We

Faulk said the timetable for recovery could extend beyond the opening of
training camp in late July.

"I don't know if you can say, 'Hey, knee, you've got to be ready by camp,'" he
said. "What do you do? How do I tell it that? If that was the case, I'd have
told it to be ready six months ago."

Rocky Arceneaux, Faulk's agent, added that the Rams have been sensitive to
Faulk because they haven't set a deadline and that Faulk "is going to be very
sensitive to the Rams and what their needs are. Obviously if he can't go, they
have to address that need and get a third running back, but they haven't really
put any pressure on us."

In addition to rehab, Faulk must learn Linehan's offense, which he estimates to
be somewhere between the fifth and 10th of his career. He said he talks at
least twice a week with running backs coach Wayne Moses and has had "several
conversations face-to-face, and on the phone" with Linehan.

"We talk football a little," Faulk said. "He seems very knowledgeable about
what he wants to get accomplished, about what kind of team he wants to have.
He's trying to get from me a feeling for the team, the guys and stuff like
that. We're just trying to mesh, trying to put it all together and win some
football games."

Arceneaux acknowledged that he and Faulk discussed whether Faulk will play
again but emphasized that no decision had been made: "If he is (retiring), I
don't know about it and I don't think Marshall knows about, either, so whoever
that is (spreading rumors), maybe they're done."