Marshall Faulk Makes Bold Claim About Cowboys’ Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders and former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith attend the 3rd Annual NFL Honor at Radio City Music Hall on February 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

A legend at the running back position, Marshall Faulk was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2000.

The second overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft, Faulk, a seven time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro was the NFL’s rushing touchdowns leader in 2000 and a member of the St. Louis Rams’ Super Bowl XXXIV winning team in 1999.

Just as special, Faulk’s speed and agility literally were literally a track meet for the opposing team’s defense on any given Sunday.

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What was even worse for opposing defenses was Faulk’s verstility in the flat. The one-time Heisman Winner out of San Diego State could line up and catch the football and gain major yardage. In 1999, Faulk had 87 receptions and 1048 reception yards and five touchdowns and during the 2001 NFL season, Faulk had 83 receptions for 765 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

Faulk’s body of work on the football field is impressive.

Being drafted in 1994 and hanging his cleats up in 2005, Faulk played during an era where Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Tiki Barber, Brian Westbrook, Shaun Alexander and Curtis Martin were all peers. During a recent appearance on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, I asked Faulk who his favorite backs were. “I mean, I’m always going to consider myself the best,” he told me.

“That’s just how I look at myself. But here’s how I rank myself and if anyone would really want to know when I played, being looked and viewed and how I wanted you to look at me; see, when you saw Barry [Sanders] and when you Emmitt [Smith], you saw running backs. When you saw me, you saw a football player. And this is taking nothing away from them because in their era that’s when they played that’s what they asked them to do. But I changed the narrative. I didn’t want — I mean, I played quarterback, receiver, I returned kicks and punts, I played defense and just like that playing baseball in the outfield was boring and you only got to bat once if your team was bad, unless if your team was good, you might get to bat five or six times a game. Maybe three times if your team’s bad. I didn’t like it so, I wanted to be around the action so I moved around. So for me, being able to move around on the football field, being versatile, being a football player; not just a running back; that’s what I wanted to be. That’s what I was.”

GettyShannon Sharpe, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders

So was he ahead of his time? “I wasn’t ahead of my time,” said Faulk.

“The time was before me, it just wasn’t recognized. Thurman Thomas did it before me. Rodney Holman did it before me. I mean, James Brooks did it before me. It was guys that did it before me; I mean, Roger Craig did 1,000 yards before me, so guys did it before me but it was like this — people just didn’t pay attention to it. Larry Centers was a fullback who did it before me. You just didn’t pay attention to it because they didn’t mix it up as much as I did. So I just didn’t play just 3rd down; I did it on first or second AND I did it on third. So, that’s when that whole thing kind of came into play. And here’s the thing, the separation between Brian (Westbrook) and I was when you come in and you are the second overall pick you know, this is your offense. They’re trying to stop you and you add this element to the game, it’s TOTALLY different as compared to that you’re just part of the offense and then you become this — I mean, we didn’t know and obviously if you didn’t know Brian if you were from that area, you knew who Brian was and because of a lot of things that was done and how we did them, Andy Reid was like, ‘Yeah. We’re doing this with Westbrook! Or Coughlin said we’re doing this with Tiki Barber. This looks fun!’”