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He Marshalled all his talents

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  • He Marshalled all his talents

    By Lori Shontz
    Saturday, Jul. 22 2006

    How did he do it? Rams running back Marshall Faulk has never been one for
    explaining. During his 12-year NFL career, he has routinely declined to talk
    about his family, his life growing up in the Desire Street housing project in
    New Orleans and even his on-field accomplishments.

    But on Christmas Eve 2000, just after rushing for 220 yards and three
    touchdowns against his hometown Saints and setting a then-NFL season record
    with 26 touchdowns, Faulk let down his guard a bit.

    "You dream about a lot of things when you grow up as a kid, and mine was to get
    out of my neighborhood and to make it in life, and you never know how far your
    determination and your drive is going to take you," he told reporters. "But
    you've just got to ... keep pushing. When things happen bad, close your eyes
    and just keep pushing. That's basically what I've done, and I'm here right now."

    It appears Faulk's days of pushing himself on the football field are nearing an
    end. Rams coach Scott Linehan announced Friday that Faulk will miss this season
    after having knee surgery this week. His NFL career might be over.

    But his legacy is secure. Former Rams coach Mike Martz once said everyone
    called him "Canton" because "that's where he's going to end up," and certainly
    Faulk doesn't need to rush for another yard or catch one more pass to secure a
    place in the Hall of Fame.

    In a three-year period from 1999 to 2001, Faulk was the star running back for
    the NFL's best offense. He was voted the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in
    all three seasons, won the 2000 MVP and finished second to teammate Kurt Warner
    in the 1999 and 2001 MVP balloting. Not coincidentally, the Rams went to the
    Super Bowl twice in that span, winning in 2000.

    "Whenever you talk about who the best was, you've got to include a lot of
    names," former Rams coach Dick Vermeil said last week. "But whenever you're
    talking about one of the finest to ever play, you have to talk about Marshall
    Faulk within that conversation."

    That's because Faulk did it all.

    He had the speed to outrun just about any defender; he once said he hasn't been
    caught from behind since his freshman year of high school. He could use his
    power to churn out yards; in the fourth quarter, if the Rams needed to run down
    the clock, he could carry the ball 10 times in a row, consistently making first

    Style and substance

    Faulk's combination of athletic ability and intelligence - coaches said he
    understood the offense better than anyone - enabled him to find holes that no
    one else knew existed. Vermeil remembers Faulk scoring a touchdown once even
    though none of his teammates threw a block. "We went back and looked at the
    film, and nobody could figure out how in the heck he did it," Vermeil said.
    "But he did it."

    Faulk's career numbers are gaudy. Only five players in NFL history have gained
    more than his 19,190 combined net yards. He is ninth on the NFL's career
    rushing list with 12,279 yards, and 16th on its career receiving list with
    6,875 yards. (No running back has gained more receiving yards.) He has scored
    136 touchdowns, 100 rushing. He became the first NFL player to amass more than
    2,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.

    And he did everything with style.

    "When Faulk is in his rhythm, the result is like jazz," Post-Dispatch columnist
    Bernie Miklasz wrote in 1999. "You could loop the sounds of John Coltrane,
    Miles Davis and Charlie Parker onto a video of Faulk running with the football,
    and his moves would fit the riffs. It is hard to explain his style. You just
    watch it and appreciate the artist at work."

    Faulk performed some equally impressive feats off the field. He went from
    selling popcorn at the Superdome to playing in a Super Bowl there. He
    transformed himself from what his high school coach, Wayne Reese, has called "a
    basic Ninth Ward thug" to a multimillionaire who returns to his former
    neighborhood - now devastated not just by gangs and drugs, but by Hurricane
    Katrina - to assist by providing both financial support and a role model for
    struggling young men.

    The Marshall Faulk Foundation has provided support to many local charities, and
    his Rams 28 Club has encouraged and rewarded children at seven local community
    centers to work hard in school, help at home and do projects at the center.

    "I think he felt like his whole life he was trying to run from drugs, run from
    gangs and guns, and trying to stay clean," said Jennifer Weber, executive
    director of the Marshall Faulk Foundation. "He just was surrounded by it, and
    he didn't like it. I think it was a no-brainer for him - I'm going to help
    inner-city kids like myself. I'm going to show them there's a way out."

    The only blip in his public image came in 2003, when the mother of three of his
    children accused him of domestic battery, and the case went to trial. After
    several days of sometimes lurid testimony, Faulk was cleared after the jury
    deliberated for less than two hours.

    Moving to Rams

    The Rams desperately needed a running back when they acquired Faulk on April
    15, 1999 in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts, who had chosen him second
    overall in the 1994 NFL draft. The Rams' leading rusher in 1998 was June
    Henley, with 313 yards.

    The Rams gave up only second- and fifth-round draft picks, and then used their
    first-round pick to acquire wide receiver Torry Holt.

    "We felt we were getting better the first two years I was there, but it didn't
    show on the scoreboard," Vermeil said. "We did feel a lot of things were coming
    together. When he got here, he brought a level of credibility to the
    organization, a statement that we were committed to winning."

    At the time, Faulk said he thought the Rams got him cheaply, considering he had
    played in three Pro Bowls, amassed four 1,000-yard rushing seasons and had been
    ranked No. 3 on the NFL reception list. "I think I'm worth more, I really feel
    and believe that I am," he told reporters. "But that's what happens. If you can
    get anything cheaper or less the price, you do it. That's the American way."

    Faulk held out for the beginning of training camp before signing a $45.15
    million dollar contract. He proved himself worth the money in his first Rams
    season, breaking the NFL's single-season record for yards from scrimmage with
    2,429. The previous record holder? Barry Sanders.

    The NFL named Warner its MVP; he received 33 votes to eight apiece for Faulk
    and his former teammate, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. But the Rams voted
    Faulk as their team MVP, and Faulk was named the NFL's Offensive Player of the
    Year over Warner.

    After the announcement, Vermeil said, "He turns the boost-up in our engine
    beyond league rules."

    In recent seasons, numerous knee surgeries and the usual passage of time began
    to take its toll on Faulk. The Rams drafted Steven Jackson in 2004, although
    Faulk continued to start. But in 2005, Faulk restructured his contract, taking
    a pay cut to save the Rams $3.5 million of cap room in 2005 and 2006.

    "You're just got to be honest with yourself and decide where you're at and
    where you want to be," Faulk told reporters. "I probably can't do all the
    things that I used to be able to do, just because it's Father Time. It happens.

    "With what we're trying to get accomplished, I'd not only be cheating myself,
    I'd be cheating my teammates if I continued to make the money that I was making
    and wasn't producing or putting out to the level of payment that I was
    receiving. That's just me."

    Nothing in recent seasons has diminished Faulk's legacy. Those who saw him play
    probably probably remember him as Warner described him in October 2000, after
    Faulk turned in yet another dazzling performance.

    "You sit back and shake your head," Warner told the Post-Dispatch. "The guy's
    amazing. We say it every week, and every week he comes out and does more things
    that you can't believe he can do."

  • #2
    Re: He Marshalled all his talents

    Very nice article. I love these stories about players that come from very difficult beginnings. They have the talent and the attitude to rise above it all, but they don't forget the past and where they came from.

    A lot of times I think that we pay the players way too much for what they do, since they are just playing a game, but stories, like this one, make me believe that some of the money is being used for a greater good.

    Marshall Faulk is a great player and a great man. I have been a fan of his from as far back as his Colts days.


    • #3
      Re: He Marshalled all his talents

      It's still sinking in that I won't see #28 on a football field for the first time since 1991, when I was awed by a San Diego State backup running back who ran for an NCAA record 386 yards and 7 touchdowns, in his very first game as a freshman no less.


      • #4
        Re: He Marshalled all his talents

        yes he is a great man and player ... these type of men only come around only so often , not very often do you see a player like this come into the league ... most all are very good or they would not be in NFL but from time too time you see one who really stands out ... I have seen many players come and go since 1958 and Marshall's is one of best to ever play the game ...
        :helmet::ram::helmet: :ram::helmet::ram:


        Related Topics


        • RamWraith
          Faulk retirement articles and comments
          by RamWraith
          Multitalented Faulk one-of-a-kind in St. Louis

          By Jeff Gordon

          Marshall Faulk is the greatest professional football player St. Louis has ever employed.

          This claim is not meant to disparage the football Cardinals, a proud franchise that sent one tremendous player after another to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Larry Wilson, Jackie Smith, Dan Dierdorf and Roger Wehrli stand among the greatest to ever play their sport.

          It’s a shame they never had a owner who measured up.

          I don’t want to overlook contemporary Rams stars like Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Orlando Pace and Kurt Warner -– four other stalwarts from “The Greatest Show on Turf.” At least a couple of those Super Bowl heroes also will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, some day.

          But Faulk was the Next Level of competition. He was one of the elite talents in NFL history, but that is just the start of his story. We’ve seen a lot of highly gifted football players come and go without making much of an impact.

          Faulk offered so much more.

          TOUGHNESS: He took a beating. He played hurt. He willed himself forward despite needing one operation after another to repair his battered knees.

          Faulk’s career highlight might have come at the end of the difficult 2000 season. With the Rams facing a must-win situation at New Orleans, his hometown, he led the Rams into the playoffs with a remarkable 220-yard, three-TD performance.

          Plowing into the teeth of the physical Saints defense, Faulk refused to let the Rams lose. He single-handedly kept his team alive.

          Faulk and his teammates couldn’t repeat that performance against the Saints in the playoffs, but his stand that afternoon was memorable.

          SMARTS: Faulk knew the “Air Martz” offense as well as Warner did. He knew all the plays. He understood the intent of the plays. He got the philosophy behind them. He studied defenses, too, so he could read them on the field and made adjustments accordingly.

          His command of this revolutionary scheme allowed him to attack defenses every way possible. He lined up all over the field. He often went in motion. His receiving skills matched his running ability. He blocked blitzing linebackers when needed, too.

          In their heyday, the Rams dared opponents to blitz -– trusting their ability to counter-attack, typically by getting the ball to Faulk.

          LEADERSHIP: On the field, Faulk barked out commands and policed his teammates. If a player didn’t get the concept of the “hurry up” offense, Faulk would pick him up off the turf and direct him to his spot in the formation. On the field, he was a second quarterback.

          Off the field, he had maintained his teammates’ respect. If Faulk could take game tapes home for additional review, shouldn’t lesser players do the same?
          -03-23-2007, 05:07 AM
        • RamWraith
          Faulk plays a realist in his new role
          by RamWraith
          By Bill Coats
          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
          competitive juices."

          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...
          -11-20-2005, 07:20 AM
        • RamDez
          Second Act
          by RamDez
          Second Act

          By Jim Thomas
          Of the Post-Dispatch


          While the others sit in what are best described as school desks, Marshall Faulk has a comfortable, padded chair in the running backs' meeting room. A pillow is placed strategically where the chair back meets the seat.

          It's a concession to Faulk's longevity, productivity and stature as perhaps the best all-purpose back in NFL history.

          Everything else Faulk has ceded to the youngster - quietly, gracefully and without envy. The transition from Faulk to Steven Jackson in the Rams' backfield could be nasty. But so far, it's been seamless.

          "The thing that I can truly say about 28 (Faulk), there's not a person that's ever come in this room that he hasn't gotten along with," running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery said, nodding in the direction of Faulk's vacant chair. "He never looked upon himself as better or greater than anybody that took a seat in this room. He constantly encouraged them to be good. And I constantly encouraged those guys to be like him. ... to reach the heights that he has reached in his NFL career."

          Few have reached such heights. As he enters his 12th pro season, Faulk ranks fourth in NFL history in touchdowns (135), fourth in yards from scrimmage (18,545), 12th in rushing yards (11,987) and 19th in receptions (723).

          With just 134 rushing yards this season, Faulk will move ahead of Franco Harris into 10th place on the NFL's career rushing list. He has been chosen for seven Pro Bowls, played in two Super Bowls and been league MVP.

          But at age 32, his knees aren't getting healthier. His rushing totals and yards per catch have declined in each of the past three seasons. So as Faulk enters the twilight of his career, he seems determined to leave the game with his head held high, instead of being dragged out kicking and screaming.

          For starters, he renegotiated his contract in February. It wasn't one of those cosmetic renegotiations, where money is shuffled to lessen that year's cap hit, but the overall dollars remain the same. It was a pay cut: from $6 million to $4 million in 2005, and from $6 million to $2 million in 2006. As a result, the Rams will save $3.5 million in cap room in both 2005 and 2006.

          "You've just got to be honest with yourself, and decide where you're at and where you want to be," Faulk said. "I probably can't do all the things that I used to be able to do, just because it's Father Time. It's inevitable. It happens.

          "I wanted to stay here. Both sides came up with an agreement, something both of us could live with. And that was it. . . . With what we're trying to get accomplished, I'd not only be cheating myself, but I'd be cheating my teammates if I continued to make the money that I was making and wasn't producing
          -08-28-2005, 02:49 AM
        • RamWraith
          Faulk's Finest Hour
          by RamWraith
          Wednesday, December 19, 2007

          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          Stuck in a dire situation, Marshall Faulk found himself in a form of football purgatory in 1998. After five years in Indianapolis, Faulk had reached his breaking point.

          All of the struggles, all of the mistakes and most of all, all of the losses had finally caused Faulk to go to management and seek something better. Faulk didn’t ask much; it wasn’t about the money. He could have had plenty of that from the Colts.

          What Faulk wanted was a chance to win. So when he received word on April 15, 1999, that he was being sent to the Rams for a second and fifth round selection in the upcoming NFL Draft, Faulk was less than thrilled.

          “My thoughts when I first came to St. Louis weren’t good,” Faulk said. “I felt like I was in a bad situation and the situation in St. Louis wasn’t any better.”

          Considering that in his five seasons in the league, the Rams had won 26 games or six less than the Colts in that same time frame. Of course, Indianapolis had gone 3-13 the two previous seasons and appeared headed nowhere.

          But that didn’t mean Faulk was thrilled with his new home in St. Louis. As Faulk watches his No. 28 jersey raised to the rafters Thursday night, never to be worn by a Ram again, it’s hard not to imagine how he went from unhappy all-star to man of honor.


          Entering the 1999 offseason, the Rams were faced with the task of overhauling a boring offense that scored so little that the scorekeeper at the Edward Jones Dome felt like the Maytag repairman.

          To that end, the Rams aggressively pursued help on the line and at the skill positions. They signed Trent Green to play quarterback and Adam Timmerman at guard. They drafted young receiver Torry Holt out of North Carolina State and hired a young offensive-minded coordinator in the form of Mike Martz.

          While those moves were a step in the right direction, none had the cache that would really draw the attention of landing a Pro Bowl running back such as Faulk. In the days leading to the draft, the Rams finally settled on a deal and Faulk became a Ram.

          With Faulk in the fold, it appeared the Rams had the foundation for an explosive offensive but it remained to be seen how the pieces would come together. Of course, it would have been impossible for those pieces to fit if Faulk never entered the fray.

          Faulk got to St. Louis without a new contract in hand and wasn’t even sure he wanted to be here. After careful consideration, Faulk decided to give the Rams a shot before he made a decision.

          “I took my time and I thought about it and I think the best thing that I did was I decided to go to minicamp and I got a chance to be around the likes of Isaac Bruce, Trent Green, etc,” Faulk said. “I got an opportunity to see that this team was...
          -12-19-2007, 03:44 PM
        • RamWraith
          Faulk seems set for surgery:
          by RamWraith
          By Bill Coats
          Friday, Jul. 21 2006

          It appears that running back Marshall Faulk's days with the Rams are over - at
          least for now.

          Faulk reportedly will undergo knee surgery next week, which most likely means
          he will miss the 2006 season. Faulk, 33, is a 12-year NFL veteran, including
          seven seasons with the Rams.

          Faulk has had surgery on both knees this year, and one hasn't responded. He is
          able to run straight ahead but suffers swelling after he tries to make cuts.

          Jay Zygmunt, the Rams' president of football operations, said he talked with
          Faulk's agent on Thursday, after Faulk had extensive medical examinations this
          week on the West Coast. The agent, Rocky Arceneaux, indicated Faulk had decided
          to have another operation, probably some time next week.

          "That was my understanding, that in all likelihood he was going to go ahead and
          schedule the surgery," Zygmunt said. "We don't know yet what the extent of it
          will be."

          Attempts to reach Arceneaux on Thursday were unsuccessful.

          Faulk has amassed 19,154 career yards - 12,279 rushing and 6,875 receiving. He
          has scored 158 touchdowns. He was selected to seven Pro Bowl squads and was
          named the NFL's most valuable player in 2000.

          A three-time All-American at San Diego State, Faulk was Indianapolis'
          first-round choice (No. 2) overall in the 1994 draft. He totaled 1,804 yards
          (1,282 rushing and 522 receiving) and scored 12 touchdowns. He was named the
          NFL offensive rookie of the year and was voted the Pro Bowl MVP.

          Faulk set a franchise record in 1998, when he piled up 2,227 yards (1,319
          rushing and 908 receiving). But the Colts refused to renegotiate his contract
          after the season, leading to his trade to St. Louis. The Rams gave up only two
          draft choices for him.

          "I think it's an outstanding move for our organization," Dick Vermeil, the
          Rams' coach, said then. "Players like this make offensive coordinators and head
          coaches a lot smarter."

          Vermeil's words proved prophetic. Faulk was a key cog in the Rams' offensive
          attack that sparked Super Bowl appearances following the 1999 and 2001 seasons.
          The Rams beat Tennessee 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV but lost to New England 20-17
          two years later.

          The Rams, just 4-12 in '98, bolted to a 6-0 start in '99, with Faulk and
          previously unheralded quarterback Kurt Warner at the head of a record-breaking

          The Rams won the NFC West Division title with a 13-3 record, as Faulk rolled up
          an NFL-record 2,429 total yards (1,381 rushing, 1,048 receiving). Then they
          beat Minnesota 49-37 and Tampa Bay...
          -07-21-2006, 05:23 AM