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Sports & Recreation

Best Rams Player 

Marshall Faulk

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.

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