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  • RamWraith
    Faulk puts his artwork on display
    by RamWraith
    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch


    This was exactly how we remembered it in all those sweet football dreams. There was Marshall Faulk with a football tucked snuggly in his arms, and there were all those angry defenders swirling around him. Two to his left, three to his right, four more dead ahead, and every last one of them filled with evil intentions in their violent hearts and souls.

    It was the first quarter of the Rams' season-opening 17-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome, and just like always, we all knew the fun was just beginning. There he was on the Rams' first offensive play of the game giving us vintage Marshall Faulk, full of fast-twitch moves that leave so many jaws dropped and defenders flailing at air.

    He took a handoff from Marc Bulger on first down and glided to the left. As he danced behind the sizeable rear ends of Chris Dishman and Orlando Pace, Faulk did a little zig to the right, a little zag to his left. Then he downshifted for a heartbeat, did about three of those herky-jerky, knee-buckling jump stops - every move going in different directions - and swooshed sideways for a 15-yard gain.

    Oh, and did I mention that all that fancy footwork happened in a confined space no bigger than a phone booth? And did I also mention that he left a vapor trail behind him and that was all most of the Cardinals defenders actually ended up grabbing?

    "He looked really good and looked really sharp," right guard Adam Timmerman said. "To see him looking that fresh and to see him looking that good makes us smile. ... He made some great cuts today and looked like the Marshall Faulk of old, not the old Marshall Faulk."

    Maybe you were one of those folks who allowed yourself to believe for even the briefest moment that age, injuries or other sinister athletic forces had conspired to transform the Rams' wondrous tailback from one of the NFL's most breathless offensive stylists into a graceless, over-the-hill plodder. And maybe you had reason to believe it. The last two seasons have been filled with far too many moments of a less-than-100-percent Faulk playing with various bumps and bruises that reduced him to a shadow of his brilliant self.

    He played with all sorts of twisted body parts, including a bum knee that was operated on twice over the last 11 months, a high ankle sprain that never healed (2002), and a broken hand. And the NFL history books are filled with evidence of tailbacks who declined rapidly after passing their 30th birthdays. Faulk passed that milestone two Februaries ago.

    But Faulk wasn't one of those nonbelievers. All he wanted to do was get healthy again. All he wanted to do was use last offseason to clean out the knee, train like a fiend and make these final few years of his NFL career as memorable as the first 10.

    When...
    -09-14-2004, 04:33 AM
  • RamWraith
    He Marshalled all his talents
    by RamWraith
    By Lori Shontz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    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
    downs.

    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...
    -07-23-2006, 05:31 AM
  • RamWraith
    Faulk plays a realist in his new role
    by RamWraith
    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
    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
    explained.

    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
    tears.

    "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

    08/28/2005


    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
    Proving Ground: Faulk ready to show he can still excel
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Aug. 27 2004

    Only three players in NFL history have scored more touchdowns than Marshall
    Faulk. Only five players have more yards from scrimmage. Just 13 have more
    rushing yards. So there is no doubting Faulk's greatness, or his eventual spot
    in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    But over the past two seasons, Faulk's rushing totals have decreased while his
    number of knee surgeries mounted. From a career-high 1,382 rushing yards for
    the Rams' 2001 Super Bowl team, Faulk dipped to 953 yards in '02. In 2003, a
    season in which Faulk missed a career-high five games due to injury, the total
    dropped to 818 yards.

    But for those questioning Faulk's future in the game at age 31, Rams defensive
    captain Tyoka Jackson has this message:

    "Keep doing it," Jackson says. "Keep saying all that stuff. 'Marshall's old.
    He's done.' Keep saying it. And just watch and see what happens."

    Just don't say it to Faulk.

    When an out-of-town reporter recently asked Faulk if he could get back to his
    former level of play, Faulk shot back: "I never thought I left."

    Faulk followed up by asking the reporter: "Hey, how long have you been doing
    this? Does your finger hurt? Does your hand hurt from writing?"

    Of course, taking notes doesn't normally involve gang-tackling, collisions or
    pass- blocking, something Faulk has been a part of for 10 NFL seasons - going
    on 11.

    But Faulk is a fiercely proud man, and he has earned that right based on his
    career accomplishments. Doubts?

    "It's hard to doubt greatness," said running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery,
    once an elite back himself. "Any time someone achieves what he has achieved,
    it's hard to put a question mark on it, hard to say, 'Hey, I doubt that this
    guy can do it.'

    "Marshall is going to be the guy to tell us when he can't do it. I go in every
    day, and every practice, every meeting, knowing that he's the guy. And that he
    can do it."

    And now, with the regular season quickly approaching, it's just about time to
    do it again.

    "I'm grinding away at it, getting back into the flow of things," Faulk said
    after his preseason debut Monday in Kansas City. "There's a conditioning factor
    that I'm working on. . . .You never know in this offense until your number's
    called five, six, seven times in a row if you are in the condition you want to
    be. But that's something that's going to come as I get my carries throughout
    the preseason, and throughout the year."

    The Rams have brought Faulk along carefully...
    -08-29-2004, 10:57 AM
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