Monday, 07 February 2011 16:29

Marshall Faulk Gets Hall Of Fame, Willie Roaf Misses

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Ed Staton--Louisiana Sports

Marshall Faulk reached the pinnacle of his NFL career on Saturday when he was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Faulk grew up on the tough streets of the Ninth Ward and as a teen sold popcorn at the Saints games, just so he could get into the Superdome to watch football for free.

As a youngster, Faulk attended Carver High School and didn't think about matching strides with players like Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Jim Brown. Faulk just wanted to wrap his hands around a football and run with it.

"You play the game because you just love it," said Faulk.

He loved it and ran with it, right through an incredible journey in the NFL that began in 1994 when the Colts made him their second over-all pick in the draft and ended after the 2005 season when he retired following seven seasons with the Rams.

He signed a seven-year $17 million contract with the Colts, then the richest rookie deal in NFL history, and was an immediate success. He rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the pro debut against the Oilers.

He started his dazzling career at San Diego State. LSU recruited him as a cornerback, but he wanted to go where he could play running back.

Faulk was considered a virtual automatic to get voted in on the first time his name was on the ballot. Faulk perhaps was the most complete back running back to ever play in the NFL. At the end of his career, Faulk ranked fourth in the league history for most yards from scrimmage. He ranked seventh all-time with 136 touchdowns. He finished 10th in rushing yards, and left the game with more receiving yards than any NFL running back.

"Disbelief," said Faulk when he received the news of his selection. "You think about it growing up as a kid, and the dream is just to watch a football game. Then you get a chance to play a football game. And now the best thing that could happen to you while playing in this game when you're done...there's guys in this Hall of Fame I look so far up to. I never thought I'd be in that room with them."

"We both lost it," said Rocky Arceneauxper Faulk's longtime agent and close friend. "He told me it reminded him of us sitting in the 'green room' at the NFL draft in 1964, when he was about to enter the league. But he said this was a much better feeling."

On Saturday, Faulk became the first New Orleans native to be elected into the Hall. Steve Van Buren, former Warren Easton and LSU standout in a Hall member, but was born in Honduras. He played with the Eagles.

Faulk made it from the Desire housing project. And on the road to Canton, desire brought him to Hall of Fame. It's been quite a journey for the greatest Rams running back of them all.

Faulk cried on Saturday when asked about what the honor meant to him, considering all of the obstacles he had to overcome in his young life. He cried when he attempted to speak of his mother, Cecile, per Without his mother, Faulk doesn't get out of New Orleans, doesn't get to the NFL, and doesn’t become a Super Bowl champion. And she helped guide him to the Hall, too.

After he signed with the Colts, Faulk bought his mother a house and a car.

Some hither, others yon: Drew Brees on the Pro Football Hall of Fame: "It's absolutely something that I would be honored to have later on.  It's not something I think about now. I just think about winning games and winning championships, because in the end that's how a quarterback and head coach are evaluated. --by wins and losses, and by championships. But that's something that is I guess along with the Super Bowl championship, that's the pinnacle of what you would want out of your NFL career, to know you played the game at a high level that was respected by others and you left the game better than  you found it."...

WILLIE Roaf must wait to enter the Pro Football of Fame. He made it to the final 10 in the voting, but missed getting voted in. It was a pretty stacked class. The former Saints offensive tackle was considered a long shot to make it in the first year of his eligibility. He has a good chance of marking it next year. Roaf, who played his final four seasons at Kansas City, made the final 10 his first year and that's a good sign that he soon will be enshrined....The Superdome's playing field is ranked as the third best artificial playing field in the NFL. Ahead of the Superdome are the Lucas Oil Stadium (Colts) and the new Meadowlands Stadium (Jets/Giants.)....

The Hornets will make their first ESPN appearance of the season when they host Blake Griffin and the Clippers in the Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 8:30 p.m. ESPN will also televise the Hornets' game at Cleveland on March 5...

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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