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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
    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

    Comment


    • #3
      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:

      Comment


      • #4
        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          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...

          Comment


          • #6
            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.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Faulk steps back to keep going

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

              Comment

              Related Topics

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              • 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, 03:49 AM
              • RamWraith
                About Faulk - By His Teammates
                by RamWraith
                Friday, July 28, 2006

                By Casey Brown
                stlouisrams.com

                Rams players reported to training camp this week with mixed emotions on the loss of Marshall Faulk for the 2006-07 season. The Rams will miss what Faulk brought to the game when he had the ball just as much as when he didn’t.



                Faulk was the catalyst for the Rams’ Super Bowl teams in 1999 and 2001 and his toughness was exemplary.

                Faulk was the force that drove “The Greatest Show on Turf,” and his knowledge proved to be invaluable inside the huddle. Just as dangerous on the ground as he was through the air, Faulk still holds the NFL record for total yards from scrimmage in a season (1999) with 2,429 yards.



                It’s not a usual occurrence for a NFL team to lose a player like Faulk. It’s actually very unusual because of Faulk’s record-breaking, Hall-of-Fame career. He ranks first in receiving yards for running backs (6,875), ninth in rushing yards (12,279) and fourth in career touchdowns (136) in NFL history.



                The seven-time Pro-Bowler is anything but replaceable. Faulk has 19,160 total yards in his career; good for sixth place in NFL history behind Hall-of-Fame names like Jerry Rice, Brian Mitchell, Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith and Tim Brown.



                But not all is lost because Steven Jackson is ready to gain. In 2005,Jackson finished 14th in the NFL with 1,046 yards rushing. He scored 10 touchdowns with eight coming on the ground and two coming through the air in his second year with the Rams.



                Faulk, who has spent seven seasons in St. Louis , totaled 65 carries for 292 yards and 44 receptions for 291 yards and one touchdown in 2005.



                Here’s what a few of the Rams veterans had to say about the loss of Faulk:



                CB Travis Fisher: “It’s tough with Marshall not being here right now. He’s truly missed. Our prayers are with Marshall . I enjoyed seeing him in practice and being around him every day. I’m pretty sure he will get healthy and whatever he decides he wants to do; he will do that and be successful. He is truly missed.”



                WR Torry Holt: “I’m totally happy for Marhsall. What else can I say? He’s the best; he’s had a fabulous career. He’s done a lot for this organization. He did a lot for the Colts. This organization has turned around and they [the Rams] have done a lot for him. For the young guys, his [ Marshall ’s] presence and the things he knew about the game that he could teach them will be missed. But with him gone it opens a lot of opportunities for Steven [ Jackson ] to emerge and be the guy and [Tony] Fisher to be the number two. Congratulations, Marshall . We’re going to miss you.”



                C Andy McCollum: “It’s pretty obvious. It’s not a guy that you can just go out and replace. We’re...
                -07-28-2006, 04:02 PM
              • RamWraith
                Faulk Leads Young RBs
                by RamWraith
                Thursday, August 19, 2004

                By Nick Wagoner
                Staff Writer

                Marshall Faulk has never been a vocal guy. But, then, he has never had to be. One look at his numbers or any of his game film, and even the casual observer can see that everything he does on the field speaks for itself.

                What do the numbers say? Well, aside from the staggering size of most of them, they don’t simply speak, but scream one thing: Hall of Fame. It’s not debatable whether Faulk is one of the game’s all-time greats; he has racked up 11,213 rushing yards, 6,274 receiving yards and 131 total touchdowns.

                With the shrill pitch those numbers express, it might be easy for Faulk to get complacent and continue the trend. Complacency, though, has never been in Faulk’s dictionary and it isn’t being added this season. The former league MVP and Pro Bowler has accomplished most everything a player can accomplish in the NFL.

                The bad news for the rest of the league is that Faulk appears healthy for the first time in awhile. Coach Mike Martz said he sometimes has to hold back his enthusiasm about Faulk. “He looks like the Marshall of old out here,” Martz said. "He feels so good and when he’s like that we try not to put a damper on it, but we also just want him to be cautious.”

                A nagging knee injury and a hand injury have caused Faulk to miss time in recent years, but he continues to play, not because he wants to prove his doubters wrong, but solely because he loves the game.

                Faulk has never asked himself what more he can accomplish, but he has a few ideas of what he wants to improve on. Faulk is one of the Rams’ captains this season. Normally, Faulk leads by example and it isn’t hard for him because of his success. Now, with three talented young backs angling to be his heir apparent, Faulk is attempting to take a more vocal role, something he has never done. “When you get in the heat of the battle, there are certain things that only another player can help you with,” Faulk said. “If I do something that’s kind of different, I want them to know what my thoughts were and what I was thinking and try to get them on the same page. “I’m just trying to find a way to become a better leader.”

                While Faulk has spent most of his training camp on the sidelines, ensuring his health for the regular season, he has also provided an ear for his younger counterparts to turn to for advice. Faulk’s wisdom is readily available to Lamar Gordon, Arlen Harris and rookie Steven Jackson. With Faulk and running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery — a former Pro Bowl running back for the Philadelphia Eagles — providing the knowledge, the trio of backups has two accomplished runners leading the way.

                Jackson could have easily come to training camp with ideas of displacing Faulk. After all, Jackson was the first running back taken in April’s Draft and there was rampant speculation about the...
                -08-19-2004, 11:33 AM
              • ramavenger
                Rams balance need /SportsLine.com
                by ramavenger
                Rams balance need, logic in deploying top weapon Faulk
                Sept. 1, 2004
                By Clark Judge
                SportsLine.com Senior Writer
                Tell Clark your opinion!



                Rams: Five things to know
                It's not how much time former All-Pro running back Marshall Faulk might miss this season that will determine where St. Louis finishes. It's how much he plays, with the Rams careful how they use a 31-year-old back sidelined with injuries parts of the past four seasons.


                The Rams drafted Steven Jackson in Round 1 for a very good reason. (AP)
                Here's the problem: Faulk is the Rams' best player, and the more he's on the field, the more problems the Rams pose for opponents. But the more he plays, the greater the risk of injury, and he missed a month-and-a-half last year with a broken hand and sore knee.

                It's a sticky situation. St. Louis needs the guy for the stretch drive, especially with Seattle hot on its trail in the NFC West, but rookie Steven Jackson and Lamar Gordon give it two outstanding young backs who can give Faulk what he needs most -- a break.

                Neither is the equal of Faulk -- few backs are -- but both are good enough they could start for some NFL teams. So how do you use them? More specific, how don't you use Marshall Faulk? I'm not sure, but I know who is.

                Mike Martz, come on down.

                "You have to be careful with him," the Rams' head coach said of his prized back. "There's just so much wear and tear. It's a fine line. He's always felt the pressure of having to stay in, even when he was pretty well banged up. But now he has the luxury (of decent backups), so he doesn't have to go more than a couple plays in a row.

                "He's always had to carry the load, so I think this is a relief to him, to be honest with you."

                Now you and I both know Marshall Faulk will go more than a couple of plays in a row. Faulk not only is a terrific player; he's a consummate professional, determined to stay in the huddle until or unless the contest is out of reach. But blowouts are less frequent each year, with 10 of the Rams' 17 games last season decided by 10 or fewer points.

                Five things you should know
                Martz will leave Faulk's availability up to the man who knows best -- Marshall Faulk. If he wants to stay on the field, Martz will let him.

                But it's a balancing act that bears watching. Players are loath to leave the field, with quarterback Steve Young atypically cursing his head coach when he was pulled in the third quarter of a 40-8 loss in 1994. Young wanted a chance to save the day, but George Seifert wanted to win the season, and there was little chance if Young was hurt.

                So, he spared Young, the team won its next 10 and later captured Super Bowl XXIX.

                "Marshall is smart," Martz said. "He...
                -09-06-2004, 02:42 PM
              • RamDez
                Faulk Leads Young RBs
                by RamDez
                Faulk Leads Young RBs
                Thursday, August 19, 2004


                By Nick Wagoner
                Staff Writer


                Marshall Faulk has never been a vocal guy. But, then, he has never had to be. One look at his numbers or any of his game film, and even the casual observer can see that everything he does on the field speaks for itself.

                What do the numbers say? Well, aside from the staggering size of most of them, they don’t simply speak, but scream one thing: Hall of Fame. It’s not debatable whether Faulk is one of the game’s all-time greats; he has racked up 11,213 rushing yards, 6,274 receiving yards and 131 total touchdowns.

                With the shrill pitch those numbers express, it might be easy for Faulk to get complacent and continue the trend. Complacency, though, has never been in Faulk’s dictionary and it isn’t being added this season. The former league MVP and Pro Bowler has accomplished most everything a player can accomplish in the NFL.

                The bad news for the rest of the league is that Faulk appears healthy for the first time in awhile. Coach Mike Martz said he sometimes has to hold back his enthusiasm about Faulk. “He looks like the Marshall of old out here,” Martz said. "He feels so good and when he’s like that we try not to put a damper on it, but we also just want him to be cautious.”

                A nagging knee injury and a hand injury have caused Faulk to miss time in recent years, but he continues to play, not because he wants to prove his doubters wrong, but solely because he loves the game.

                Faulk has never asked himself what more he can accomplish, but he has a few ideas of what he wants to improve on. Faulk is one of the Rams’ captains this season. Normally, Faulk leads by example and it isn’t hard for him because of his success. Now, with three talented young backs angling to be his heir apparent, Faulk is attempting to take a more vocal role, something he has never done. “When you get in the heat of the battle, there are certain things that only another player can help you with,” Faulk said. “If I do something that’s kind of different, I want them to know what my thoughts were and what I was thinking and try to get them on the same page. “I’m just trying to find a way to become a better leader.”

                While Faulk has spent most of his training camp on the sidelines, ensuring his health for the regular season, he has also provided an ear for his younger counterparts to turn to for advice. Faulk’s wisdom is readily available to Lamar Gordon, Arlen Harris and rookie Steven Jackson. With Faulk and running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery — a former Pro Bowl running back for the Philadelphia Eagles — providing the knowledge, the trio of backups has two accomplished runners leading the way.

                Jackson could have easily come to training camp with ideas of displacing Faulk. After all, Jackson was the first running back taken in April’s Draft and there was rampant speculation...
                -08-19-2004, 02:46 PM
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