The graceless aging of an NFL superstar is a sad, sad sight to behold: Emmitt Smith nickel-and-diming his way to the all-time rushing title; Jerry Rice vowing to play another season after two releases in a calendar year. Marshall Faulk is a few years away from risking such ignominy (he turned 32 this offseason, which puts him late-middle-age in football years), but in the aftermath of the Rams' bipolar 2004 campaign, the warning signs were gathering. Faulk had -- by his remarkable standards -- an off-year (774 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns), and in February coach Mike Martz made official what had become apparent by season's end: Promising young Steven Jackson would be the featured back in 2005, Faulk the change-of-pace back. No one would have been surprised if Marshall Faulk had vented to the media, demanding a trade. But then something odd happened. Faulk not only didn't argue, he actually renegotiated his contract to reflect his new job -- and to give the Rams some needed salary-cap relief. After all the negatives that have glommed on to the team since the Patriots upset them in Super Bowl XXXVI -- Kurt Warner's fall from grace and bitter departure, the annual Orlando Pace holdout, that strange fight between Martz and Kyle Turley -- Faulk's selfless act is a reminder that if the Rams are going to be among the NFL elite once again, they must be a team, and that the greatest player in franchise history still wants to lead that team, even if he has to do so mostly from the sidelines.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.