Kevin Faulk was never selected to a Pro Bowl, nor did he ever really make a notable appearance inside the box score on Monday mornings. Even in his best statistical season, Faulk still came up 362 yards shy of the coveted 1,000-yard mark.
But none of that ever really mattered to Faulk.
In 13 years with the Patriots, Faulk was asked to fill a number of roles for what became a perennial Super Bowl contender. As a running back, receiver, special teamer, kick and punt returner, among other things, Faulk always excelled in his revolving door of responsibilities. But even as his function changed, almost weekly in some seasons, Faulk’s primary goal always stood firmly with the team’s success.
“I’m leaving the game, but I’m leaving with a little bit of jewelry,” Faulk said in his retirement news conference on Tuesday morning at The Hall at Gillette Stadium.
“This is why we do it,” he said pointing to the three Super Bowl rings laid out in front of him. “This is why we put in all the hours into the game of football.”
Faulk, who hasn’t played a full season since 2009, was a vital contributor in each of New England’s three Super Bowl titles. He may never have won an MVP award for his efforts or even received the credit he deserved during those championship runs, but Faulk’s presence on each of those teams was crucial. And who better to reinforce that belief than the guy who took the majority of the credit for the Patriots’ three championships.
“He’s one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever had,” Tom Brady said in a film shown before Faulk took the stage on Wednesday. “No one was more clutch than Kevin.”
Clutch is a term that has long described Brady, so for the quarterback to anoint Faulk with such admiration can only serve as the highest form of praise. But while Brady’s words definitely carry some weight, it’s head coach Bill Belichick that might best understand Faulk’s importance to New England’s success.
“He was the ultimate team player, the hardest worker, always prepared,” Belichick said in a glowing speech about his longtime player. “In my coaching career, nobody has ever worked harder to do what he had to do.”
That type of drive and dedication is something not often found in players around the NFL, yet the Patriots were fortunate enough to have two players — Troy Brown included — with that mentality over the last decade. And Belichick was quick to point out the importance of both players in the Patriots’ longstanding success.
“I don’t think anybody really stands more and embodies more of the teamwork,” Belichick said of Faulk and Brown. “That’s really the gold standard in terms of teamwork, commitment and winning.”
The high praise from Belichick was obviously flattering for Faulk, as he spent the better half of his time at the podium talking about his relationship with the coach. But the praise was also well warranted.
Through his 13-plus seasons in New England, no one better embodied what it means to be a Patriot. Faulk’s leadership, work ethic, professionalism and commitment to winning are all attributes that Belichick and the entire organization really hone in on when bringing in new players. And what better example to point to than the man who embodied them all?
Photo via Twitter/@Patriots