Faulk, who played a key role in each of the Patriots' three
championships, announced on Monday afternoon that he was ready to officially
But while the versatile running back may have never achieved great personal
feats, his legacy will go down as one of the greats in Patriots lore.
When he was drafted 46th overall out of LSU back in 1999,
Faulk was an undersized tailback with elite speed and elusiveness. He held
nearly every rushing record in LSU history and had been one of the most
productive backs the SEC had ever seen. And while that sort of talent never
translated into awards and accolades in the pros, Faulk's role on the Patriots'
championship teams was far more important.
Faulk never managed a 200-carry season, nor did he ever join
the 1,000-yard club during his 13 seasons. But that wasn't his role on the team
and it definitely wasn't the motivation behind his success. Rather, when talking
about Faulk's impact on the Patriots, terms like leadership, flexibility and
team come to mind.
With Faulk, football was never selfish. Whether it was his
time in the backfield, covering kicks or returning punts, Faulk was willing to
do whatever it took to win. And that sort of unselfish play showed out on the
field and eventually in the win column.
After being used as somewhat of a feature back during his
second season — and excelling in the role with 570 yards and four touchdowns on
the ground as well as 51 grabs in the passing game — Faulk transitioned into a
reserve role in 2001, allowing Antowain Smith to take over as the lead back,
and the then 25-year-old accepted his new function with open arms. And the
commitment paid off.
Behind the strong running of Smith and the leadership of guys
like Faulk, the Patriots were able to do the unimaginable running off to the
first of three Super Bowl titles, and his presence remained vital all the way
through the Patriots' fifth Super Bowl appearance last season. That sort of
leadership is not often found in the NFL.
While there are guys like Terrell Owens and Keyshawn Johnson
who complain about targets and touchdowns, there are also the dedicated few like
Faulk who will do whatever it takes to succeed.
During his career, Faulk showed off his unbelievable
versatility with 3,607 rushing yards, 3,701 receiving yards and 31 total
touchdowns. Numbers not necessarily destined for enshrinement in the Pro
Football Hall of Fame. But while his statistics may never match up with some of
the all-time greats, his value in the Patriots' success is almost unrivaled.
So, when looking back on the careers of guys like Johnson
and Owens, they may well find their way into the Hall of Fame. But even though
Faulk may never individually grace the halls in Canton, Ohio, his presence as a
key contributor in the building one of the most successful franchises in NFL history
far outweighs the glory any plaque could ever provide.
There may never be a commemorative heads gracing the walls
in Canton, but Faulk will undoubtedly be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Foxboro, Mass. one day. And for a guy like Faulk, that would be the ultimate
Photo via Facebook/Kevin Faulk