Faulk, Marshall 1973–
Marshall Faulk 1973–
Professional football player
Known for his speed, power, and unstoppability, Marshall Faulk has become one of the most respected football players in the game. He broke records throughout high school and college to become one of the most sought-after National Football League (NFL) draft picks of 1994. As a professional running back he has continued to break records and score awards, including being named Most Valuable Player many times and playing in several Pro Bowls. He has been widely credited with helping to turn around the poorly ranked St. Louis Rams and propel them to the Super Bowl twice, bringing home the ring in 1999. “To talk about the great backs and not include him is a mistake,” Dick Vermeil, former coach of the Rams, told Sports Illustrated. “I’ve been around some great players, and he’s better—he’s an elite player.”
However, Faulk has also been admired for more than his glory and prowess on the gridiron. One of the most generous professional athletes in any sport, he has established several programs to help inner-city youth, including the Marshall Faulk Foundation. He donates $2, 000 for each touchdown he scores—and he is one of the highest scoring players in the game—and has committed himself to donate $500, 000 overall. With simple modesty he explained his generosity on the website PigskinPlanet: “I help inner-city youth because I am inner-city youth. I know how tough it is. I know the blinders these kids have on. They can’t see beyond the corner and the people within the neighborhood who seem like they’re ‘making it.’”
The youngest of six boys, Marshall William Faulk was born on February 26, 1973, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Cecile and Roosevelt Faulk. The couple divorced when Faulk was just four and he was raised by his mother in the Desire Housing Projects, one of the most crime-ravaged, oppressed projects in the United States. His neighborhood was riddled with gunfire, garbage, and despair. Many of Faulk’s childhood friends fell into crime and drugs and some died early violent deaths. Though much has been made of Faulk’s rise from the projects to the height of football fame, it is not something Faulk dwelled on. He brushed off his background, saying to Rob Rains in the biography Marshall Faulk: Rushing to Glory, “All I knew was that I had clothes on my back, shoes on my feet, food to eat and a roof over my head.”
At a Glance…
Career: Professional football player. Indianapolis Colts, running back, 1994-98, St. Louis Rams, running back, 1999-.
Memberships: Founder, Marshall Faulk Foundation, 1994.
Awards: NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, 1994; Pro Bowl, Most Valuable Player, 1994; invited to Pro Bowl, 1994; invited to Pro Bowl, 1995; Miller Lite Player of the Week, 1995; second player in NFL history to rush for 1, 000 yards and have 1, 000 receiving yards in a season, 1999; invited to Pro Bowl, 1999; Super Bowl Victory, 2000 (1999 season); invited to Pro Bowl, 2000; NFL Most Valuable Player, 2000; NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 2000; NFL record for most touchdowns in a season (26), 2000; NFC Offensive Player of the Week, three times, 2000; NFC Offensive Player of the Month, twice, 2000; NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 2001; NFL Player of the Year, 2001; played in the Super Bowl, 2002 (2001 season).
Addresses: Office —Marshall Faulk Foundation, 1509 Washington St., Ste. 528, St. Louis, MO 63103.
This stability was due in large part to his family, especially his mother. Though she worked at odd jobs to support her sons, Faulk told Sports Illustrated, “My mom didn’t have a profession. Her profession was her kids.” Though he spent some summers with his father who worked as a truck driver, Faulk wasn’t very close to him. In fact, his father never once saw him play football, the sport Faulk had begun playing at age seven.
Whether due to neighborhood influences or just being a boy, Faulk ran into some early trouble and was kicked out of three elementary schools. He could easily have continued on that path and gotten into more serious trouble with drugs and crime. However, football increasingly drew his attention. He played in Little League and middle school and by the time he was ready for high school he realized he loved the sport. To continue playing meant he had to focus on school. When he entered George Washington Carver High School, he met a man who would help him do both.
Football coach Wayne Reese took his duties far beyond the field and became a mentor to the young Faulk. “Coach Reese had a lot to do with teaching me the game. He taught me that if I was going to play the game I had to love it. He taught me to understand the game, to know the game, not just to play it,” Faulk told Rains. Reese let the eighth-grade Faulk work out with the varsity team and encouraged him to play in several positions, including running back, quarterback, wide receiver, and defensive back. The coach also required Faulk to run track, both to keep him busy during the off-season and to teach him speed. Reese also taught Faulk a lesson he remembers to this day. He told Rains, “[Reese] taught me about how you have to make sacrifices to get where you want to go. I had to sacrifice my summers practicing for football and my springs running track.”
Both efforts paid off. Faulk lettered in track and drew the attention of college recruiters on the football field. By his senior year, college offers were pouring in. Most of them wanted Faulk to play defensive back, but he preferred running back—an offensive position. San Diego State was the only school to offer him a running back position. “The fact the school didn’t have a national reputation didn’t matter to me. If you’re good, you’re good. I didn’t know how good I was or how good I was going to be,” Faulk told Rains.
Debuting as a San Diego Aztec, he scored his first touchdown in his very first game. In his second game, he set an NCAA record rushing for 386 yards and became an instant sports celebrity. Articles about him appeared in newspapers across the nation and he became a hot topic among network sportscasters. He proved to be more than a one-rush wonder and continued to astound fans and players alike during the rest of the season, rushing for 1, 429 yards and scoring 23 touchdowns. By the end of the season, he had racked up some impressive achievements. He became the first freshman in history to lead the country in rushing and scoring. He was selected for the Associated Press’s All-American team—just the third freshman to receive this honor. He was named the UPI Freshman of the Year. And in that year’s vote for the Heisman trophy, Faulk achieved the second highest finish ever for a freshman. The trophy, awarded by New York City’s Downtown Athletic Club, is the most prestigious in college football and is given to the best college player.
Faulk repeated his success during his sophomore year and was highly touted as the next Heisman winner. Unexpectedly, he came in second. “I felt like I should have won it,” Faulk told Rains years later. “I still do.” His junior year was also stellar. He made the All-American team again and caught a career-high 47 passes. The Heisman remained out of his reach, however, when he came in fourth in the voting. Faulk achieved all of this while majoring in public administration and working summers at a local law firm. As his senior year approached, the entire coaching staff at San Diego was replaced. Faulk decided it was time to leave school. “I felt like if I was going to be learning a new system I might as well be doing it in the pros,” he told Rains.
At the 1994 National Football League (NFL) draft, Faulk was the second pick. He was chosen by the Indianapolis Colts, one of the lowest-ranking teams in the league. He signed a seven-year, $17.2 million contract and promptly began to prove he was more than worth it. In his first professional game he rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns—one of the best debut games by a rookie player in NFL history. He kept it up all season long, rushing for over 1000 yards. He was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and was the only rookie selected to play in the Pro Bowl. Even though Faulk nearly missed that game—he wrecked his rental car on the way to the Pro Bowl stadium and had to hitch a ride—he rushed for a record 180 yards and set four records. His performance earned him the Most Valuable Player (MVP) title for the game.
The Colts also benefited from Faulk’s abilities. In his second season with the team, they came within one game of going to the Super Bowl. Faulk again rushed for over 1000 yards and was again named to the Pro Bowl. The following season, 1996, Faulk missed three games due to a dislocated toe. It kept his rushing to less than 600 yards, yet the Colts still made it to the playoffs. That same year the Colts’ coach was fired. Faulk had been close to him and was very upset by the change. Still, he came back even stronger the following year and once again had a season total of 1000-plus yards rushing, including four 100-plus yard games, a career-best for him. However, it was a terrible season for the team. They won three games and had 13 losses—the worst ranking in their conference. “It was a frustrating year but when you get rid of a lot of key people you’ve got to expect that to happen,” Faulk explained to Rains.
Faulk’s relationship with the new coach was strained, and in one regretful incident Faulk was benched by the coach for supposedly being late to a pre-game meeting. In that particular game Faulk had had a chance to make NFL history by becoming only the second player to achieve 1000 yards in rushing and 1000 yards in pass receptions. Though others in the Colts organization stated that Faulk had not been late, the coach’s decision was unchanged and Faulk was unable to achieve his 1000/1000 goal. “Just like a drill sergeant, the coach can make his own rules,” he told Sports Illustrated years later.
By 1998, with the consent of the Colts’ organization, Faulk’s agent began to shop around for a better deal. Two days before the 1999 draft he was traded to the St. Louis Rams, one of the lowest-ranking teams in the league—by the time they acquired Faulk they had suffered nine straight losing seasons. However, the team was gearing up for some changes. With Kurt Warner, a powerhouse quarterback, a visionary coach named Mike Martz (who was offensive coordinator at the time), and Faulk signed to a seven-year, $45.15 million contract, the Rams were ready to not only halt their losing streak, but give it a complete 180-degree spin.
Faulk’s first season with the Rams was spectacular. Wearing number 28, he rushed 253 times for a career-high 1, 381 yards. He also achieved his goal of becoming the second player in NFL history to rush for 1, 000 yards and have 1, 000 receiving yards in a season. He had a total of 12 touchdowns, and in addition to the $2, 000 per touchdown that he donated to his own charity, he also donated $340 per touchdown to the American Liver Foundation in tribute to former Chicago Bears’ running back Walter Payton. His success had a major impact on the team. Martz admitted to Sports Illustrated, “Getting him was like taking the handcuffs off.” In fact, the team that just the previous season was the worst in the League, found itself in first place, and the Rams went on to win the 24th Super Bowl, 23-6. It was a classic storybook rags-to-riches tale, but this time the riches came in the form of a Super Bowl ring.
In 2000, despite missing two games with a right knee injury, Faulk scored a total of 26 touchdowns, an NFL record. He also become the only player in NFL history to score four touchdowns in three separate games in one season. Again he had over 1000 yards in rushing. His accomplishments gained him the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award as well as Offensive Player of the Year. The following year, he and the team were back at the Super Bowl, this time held in Faulk’s hometown of New Orleans. “Regardless of what the downside is,” Faulk told the Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, “to get the opportunity to play where I’ve played high school football games, you couldn’t ask for anything better.” Though the Rams lost in a spectacularly close game with the New England Patriots, Faulk still had a great year, again rushing for over 1000 yards, scoring 21 touchdowns, and once again being named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Despite Faulk’s dizzying success and eight years of professional experience, he remained humble. “Most people would say you’ve got no room for improvement,” he told Jet in a 2002 article. “But I know what’s really going on, and I know the things I probably need to work on.” It is a philosophy that he shares with the kids he helps through the Marshall Faulk Foundation.
The programs he has established in New Orleans, St. Louis, and Indianapolis encourage kids to make positive choices in life—at school, home, and in the community. With each improvement they make, they earn points. Enough points scores them a party with Faulk and other players. At a recent party in St. Louis, the kids asked Faulk how it felt to be famous. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported his answer. “To me, famous people should be people who change the world, people who make a difference. When I’m older, you guys will be in the world making a difference.”
Rains, Rob, Marshall Faulk: Rushing to Glory, Sports Publishing Inc., 1999.
Jet, February 4, 2002, p. 53.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, January 31, 2002.
Sporting News, December 27, 1999.
Sports Illustrated, July 24, 1995, September 3, 2001.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 6, 2001, p. 3.
Marshall Faulk, http://www.marshallfaulk.com
St. Louis Rams, http://www.stlouisrams.com/Team/13
American football player
St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk is speedy, powerful, and elusive, making him a nearly unstoppable scoring machine. Faulk can catch passes, rush for yardage, block, and evade tackles. He's a complete package—and, as Football Digest noted, the most complete all-around player in the NFL today. When Faulk has the ball, he flattens opponents like a bulldozer, or dashes past defenders like a bullet train. With his skills, Faulk pours on the points. In 2000, he set a new NFL record for most touchdowns in a season (26). He's also the only player in NFL history to produce four straight 2,000-yard seasons (1998-2001). There's just no telling what he'll be able to accomplish over the long haul. As O.J. Simpson told Sports Illustrated, "You don't exaggerate when you say a guy like that comes along once in a lifetime."
Raised in New Orleans
Born February 26, 1973, in New Orleans, Marshall William Faulk grew up in one of the city's rough-and-tumble housing projects, where sirens and broken windows prevailed. His mother, Cecile, stayed busy raising six sons and working odd jobs, while his father, Roosevelt, owned a restaurant and bar. He also worked part-time for a trucking company.
Faulk's childhood was filled with struggles. He moved through a number of elementary schools, his parents
divorced, and he spent part of high school living on his own because his mother was sick. Yet Faulk never complained about the hardships—and he doesn't like it when people treat his success like a rags to riches story.
Faulk expressed his thoughts this way in an issue of USA Today, "This whole upbringing thing that people want to make my story, I don't want it. At least not the story that they want to make it…. I don't want mystory to be something that it's not. Sure, I grew up rough, but my upbringing was like millions of other kids from the projects."
At New Orleans's George Washington Carver High, Faulk unleashed his smorgasbord of talents, helping the offense by playing quarterback, running back, tight end, wide receiver, and flanker. He was also a solid defensive back.
Despite his success, Faulk almost quit the sport. Early on in high school, Faulk told coach Wayne Reese that he needed to quit the football team so he could work at his brother's barbecue stand because the family needed money. Reese, however, had already pegged Faulk as a potential NFL star. He counseled Faulk about his future, persuading him to work through the current tough times and look toward the future. To help Faulk earn money, Reese secured a janitorial job for him at the school. Faulk's teenage years were marked by long school days—he arrived early in the morning to work, then stayed afterward for football practice.
Energized San Diego State Football Program
During his final two years at Carver High, Faulk rushed 1,800 yards and scored thirty-two touchdowns. Because Faulk played for a mediocre high school team, his talents weren't widely recognized. Some college powerhouses, nonetheless, came knocking. The only problem was, the colleges wanted to recruit Faulk to play defensive back. After all, during his senior year at Carver, while playing cornerback, Faulk snagged eleven interceptions, returning six for touchdowns. Faulk, however, yearned to play offense.
"I didn't love playing cornerback, so I knew I wouldn't be as successful in that position," Faulk told Sports Illustrated for Kids. "You have to really love what you do to be a star."
Finally, San Diego State offered Faulk the chance to play running back, and he jumped at the opportunity. Faulk joined the San Diego State Aztecs during the fall of 1991. During the second game of the season, the starting running back left the game after an injury. Faulk took over. He rushed for 386 yards on thirty-seven carries—an NCAA Division I-A single game rushing record—to score seven touchdowns. The record, however, was broken before the end of the season.
Faulk got off to a tremendous start, but things went downhill. In the sixth game of the season, he collapsed a lung and fractured two ribs. The injuries forced Faulk out of the next three games. Despite his shortened season, Faulk still ended up with 1,429 rushing yards for the year. He averaged 158.8 yards per game, an NCAA freshman-record average. He was named an Associated Press first-team All-American—only the third freshman to receive the honor.
Faulk's energizing presence on the field helped boost the status of the San Diego State football program. The number of season ticket holders skyrocketed, and networks began broadcasting their games, boosting the athletic department's funds.
His sophomore year, Faulk won his second NCAA rushing title, becoming only the fifth player to win back-to-back NCAA rushing titles. That season, he also came out of his shell as a skilled receiver, catching eighteen passes for 128 yards.
Riding a huge wave of success, Faulk decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Though he had only played three seasons with the Aztecs, he owned the school's records for rushing touchdowns (57) and rushing yards (4,589).
Drafted by Indianapolis Colts
During the 1994 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts snagged Faulk as the draft's second overall pick. His contract, worth about $17 million, including a $5.1 million signing bonus was the largest ever earned by a rookie up to that point.
The Colts got their money's worth. His rookie season, 1994, Faulk rushed for 1,282 yards and scored twelve touchdowns to be named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year. He also played in the Pro Bowl (the only rookie) and rushed for 180 yards in the game, breaking Simpson's 22-year-old Pro Bowl record. Naturally, Faulk was named the game's MVP. Faulk achieved those numbers despite having wrecked his car on a slick street prior to the game. He hitched a ride to the stadium and arrived ten minutes before kickoff, completely unnerved.
During 1994, Faulk provided the spark that propelled the Colts to a winning record of 8-8. The team had gone 4-12 the previous year. Injuries slowed Faulk the next few seasons, particularly a broken big toe. In 1998, however, Faulk was dazzlingly successful as he gained a total of 2,227 yards (1,319 rushing, and 908 receiving), the sixth-best total in NFL history.
|1973||Born February 26 in New Orleans|
|1991||Joins San Diego State Aztecs|
|1994||Chosen by Indianapolis Colts as second overall draft pick|
|1995||Becomes father to Marshall William Faulk, Jr.|
|1999||Traded to St. Louis Rams|
|2000||Helps deliver Rams a Super Bowl victory|
Related Biography: Football Player Darnay Scott
Just as Marshall Faulk's career bloomed at San Diego State, so did his friendship with the team's wide receiver, Darnay Scott. Scott, born July 7, 1972, in St. Louis, grew up in a St. Louis housing project, then moved to San Diego in 1988 to live with his aunt and uncle.
Since Faulk and Scott grew up under similar conditions, they just clicked—and brought out the best in each of them both on the field and off. When the two offensive players weren't out on the field, they were standing on the sideline squirting water on each other.
San Diego coach Curtis Johnson noted their friendship in a Washington Post article, saying, "It's always something with those two kids. They're from similar backgrounds and this is the first time they've gotten a taste of being a child. They went to see the movie 'Candyman,' and they talked about how scared they were. I've seen them get in a big argument—I mean crying mad—over Nintendo."
After college, the 6-foot-1-inch, 204-pound Scott was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1994 draft. In 2002, he joined the Dallas Cowboys.
Delivered Rams to the Super Bowl
Before the start of the next season, the Colts traded Faulk to the St. Louis Rams, then the laughingstock of the NFL. But with Faulk in the lineup, the Rams' offense came alive. That season, Faulk gained more than 1,000 yards rushing and more than 1,000 yards receiving, making him the second player in NFL history to complete that feat. The 2,429 yards (1,381 rushing and 1,048 receiving) set a new NFL single-season record for most yards from scrimmage. More important, Faulk delivered the Rams to the Super Bowl. In the game, Faulk pulled down five passes to gain ninety yards as the Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-16.
During the 2000 season, Faulk continued his torrid pace. He scored twenty-six touchdowns to set a new NFL record for most touchdowns in a season, bettering Emmitt Smith 's 1995 mark by one. He also led the NFC with most yards combined (1,359 rushing and 830 passing).
Faulk continues to wrack up the stats because he is so fast. "What sets him apart from everybody else is that he can go from a standing start to full speed faster than anybody I've ever seen," Colts coach Ted Marchibroda told Sports Illustrated. "When he runs the ball and is forced to hesitate, his next step is full speed."
While Faulk's future abilities remain uncertain, it is pretty certain he will remain a Ram for the rest of his pro career. In July 2002, Faulk signed a seven-year, $44 million deal with the club.
Faulk spends the off-season in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and his free time with his son, Marshall William Faulk, Jr., born in 1995, to Faulk and his girlfriend Candace Patton. He calls the boy Deucie.
Over the years, Faulk hasn't forgotten the people he left behind. He purchased uniforms for Carver High's sports teams and also has given money for the school's training equipment. Faulk also donated a quarter-million dollars so San Diego State could upgrade its football offices. In addition, the Marshall Faulk Foundation raises money for inner-city children in New Orleans and St. Louis.
Called 'Best Weapon' in NFL
Faulk remains an engaging player because his skills run across the board. In his first nine seasons in the NFL, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards all but two seasons. Besides rushing, Faulk has made a mark catching passes. During his first nine seasons, he pulled down 628 passes for 5,984 yards, or an average of 9.5 per catch. Moreover, Faulk has sticky hands—when he has the ball, he's unlikely to drop it. In his first nine seasons, Faulk handled the ball 2,995 times rushing and receiving passes, yet fumbled it only thirty-two times.
Because he is a threat as both a rusher and a receiver, the 5-foot-10, 211-pound Faulk keeps his opponents on guard. "It's just a guessing game of where he's going," the Atlanta Falcons' Patrick Kerney told Sports Illustrated for Kids. "He's the best weapon in the NFL right now."
The NFL's best weapon will be on the gridiron for years to come, and there's just no telling what kind of legacy he'll leave behind.
|IND: Indianapolis Colts; STL: St. Louis Rams.|
Address: c/o St. Louis Rams, Dome at America's Center, St. Louis, Mo., 63101. Phone: (314) 425-8830. Online: www.stlouisrams.com.
Berkowitz, Steve. "Carrying the Pressure, Faulk Rushes On." Washington Post (October 28, 1992).
Bradley, John Ed. "Babying Himself." Sports Illustrated (July 24, 1995): 106.
Cosgrove, Ellen. "Marshall's the Man." Sports Illustrated for Kids (February 2001): 25.
"Faulk First to Four Straight." Jet (January 21, 2002): 52.
Saraceno, Jon. "Sorry, Mom, Marshall's Busy." USA Today (February 1, 2002).
Silver, Michael. "Star of Stars." Sports Illustrated (September 3, 2001): 106.
Thomas, Jim. "Faulk Signs 7-Year Contract; New Deal Means he Could Finish Career With Rams." St. Louis Post-Dispatch (July 30, 2002).
Wilner, Barry. "The Perfect Man." Football Digest (April 2001): 30.
"Darnay Scott." ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/profile?statsId=2761 (January 8, 2003).
"Marshall Faulk." ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/stats?statsID=2728 (January 6, 2003).
Sketch by Lisa Frick
Awards and Accomplishments
|1991||United Press International Freshman of the Year|
|1991-93||Associated Press first-team All-America at San Diego State; named to Sporting News first-team All-America|
|1994||Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year, Football Digest 's Rookie of the Year, and Sporting News NFL Rookie of the Year; also named Outstanding Player of the Pro Bowl for the 1994 season|
|1995||Set new Pro Bowl rushing record at 180 yards and was named Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player|
|1999-2001||Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year three consecutive seasons|
|2000||Won Super Bowl ring as member of St. Louis Rams|
|2000||Ran for 26 touchdowns to set a new NFL single-season record; led NFC with 2,189 combined yards (1,359 rushing and 830 passing)|
|2000||Named Football Digest 's Player of the Year, Sporting News Sportsman of the Year (shared with Kurt Warner); and the league's Most Valuable Player|
|2000-01||Named NFL Player of the Year by Sporting News|