Recently, Complex had the opportunity to speak with Marshall Faulk and get his take on the 2013-14 season, which starts tonight with Ravens vs. Broncos at 8:30 PM ET. For the past five years, Faulk has been breaking things down on NFL Network, but recently, he partnered with SAP to promote their new player comparison tool for NFL.com, which prevents you from having to search through publication after publication to figure out who to start on Sunday.
We also picked Marshall's brain for his thoughts on training camp, guys who play like he did, and his early Super Bowl prediction. Faulk also adds his own perspective on the discussion revolving around the NFL's new penalty for running backs leading with their crown, which involves a dystopian future for the league where defenders flop in an effort to draw a penalty.
Interview by Gavin Evans
Tell us about your work with SAP and the launch of the player comparison tool for NFL.com Fantasy Football.
Yeah, pretty much SAP and the NFL have partnered together and came up with the player comparison tool to make it pretty easy for fans in their experience playing fantasy football. This tool will provide users with all the information that they need about their team: Who to sit, who to start, if they want to make a trade, what the tradeoff is, how a guy’s gonna play in good weather, bad weather, indoors, outdoors.
It puts anything, and everything, into play and I know as a fantasy football player, it’s just a great resource to be able to go to and get all that information, instead of this magazine or that website. It makes it a lot easier to make smarter and faster decisions.
How did you get involved with SAP?
Obviously, they are a sponsor for the NFL. In launching this player comparison tool, they wanted a guy who, in fantasy football is looked at as one of, if not, the best fantasy football players ever to kind of launch this product with them. I got a call from them and felt honored that in launching this tool, they picked me to be an ambassador of SAP with their partnership with the NFL and making the leap for their fans.
Alright, so you said you played fantasy football. Have you had your draft yet?
No. We’re about to have our draft. Actually, my buddy’s doing the draft this year.
Who would your number one pick be then?
My number one pick...if I had the first overall pick, it’d be Adrian Peterson.
Through Hard Knocks, we see these younger players kind of being treated like babies. Can you tell us what it’s like, as a veteran, to be at training camp, having a curfew and living in a dorm fifty miles away from civilization?
There are two ways to look at it. You’re looking at it as an adult that, if you have a normal job, you have to show up and do XYZ. You have to understand in the professional athletic world, regardless of what it is, basically what they’re trying to do and what it’s all about is to provide you with an excuse to tell everyone you can’t do it. If you’re in camp, you can’t take your wife to dinner. If you’re in camp, you can’t go to the movies. If you’re in camp, you can’t drop your kids off. You’re at practice and in camp.
It’s an excuse to get you away from all the other things. “Honey, I have to go to bed I have curfew.” You can’t say that to your wife if you work a normal job. So, I know, as a player, I appreciated camp. I hated going to camp but when I got there, I appreciated what it afforded me the opportunity to do, which is tell people that you love “no” and they understood because you and 52 other guys were making the same sacrifice for the sake of the team, for the greater good of the team and what you were trying to get accomplished. In the real life world, camp wouldn’t work.
Now are there any players or teams that could surprise us this year? I just read an article, I know you’re big on Trent Richardson. Are there any teams…
Not just Trent Richardson, I like the structure of the Cleveland Browns. What they’ve done and what they’re putting out there for their players. As much as this league is about players, you have to have good coaching. I’m sure you’ve watched Brandon Weeden. All of a sudden, he looks like, “Who is that guy?” Well, Norv Turner. Every quarterback that he’s worked with, they’ve had career years. This guy is an offensive genius. He gets it. If you only give him one side of the ball to worry about, he’s just going to tear it up. And then they have Ray Horton on defense. The Cardinals played good defense under Horton. So the Browns have an offensive and defensive coordinator who’s going to answer all the questions that these young players are going to have. I like them.
I like the St. Louis Rams and what they did on the offensive side of the ball. Last year, they went from the twenties to the teens as far as defense goes, but their offense, at times, couldn’t get a first down. They put some playmakers around Sam Bradford. They talked left tackle Jake Long into coming to the Rams. So they made some moves. I like where they’re at.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You wanna get better on defense? “Okay, let’s go get [Dashon] Goldson. Let’s go get [Darrelle] Revis.” What did they do in the NFC South? The New Orleans Saints? They throw the football. The Atlanta Falcons? They throw the football. The Carolina Panthers? Well they have Steve Smith. He does it all for them. They can cover now, to go along with their ability to rush. We watched them offensively. We saw what Doug Martin is capable of doing. The team made some great moves this offseason and I can’t wait to see how those moves pay off for them.
Just getting back to Trent Richardson real quick. One of the quotes that you said was “As a running back in this league, it’s going to be about how unhealthy you play at times,” because you’re always going to be a little banged up during the season. What’s the toughest injury that you ever played through?
Probably when I dislocated my toe.
Yeah, the dislocated toe. It’s a toss-up between the dislocated toe and, it’s happened various times, when you don’t break your rib but you kind of separate the cartilage in between the ribs sometimes, and you have to get it shot up each half. Those two things were the most painful things I ever played with.
I’ve always wondered because I’m never going to play in the NFL.
Probably. Is there an equivalent that the average man could compare to what it’s like to run up the middle in the NFL?
Take a hammer to your knee or something?
I don’t know, man. I don’t know if there’s anything in life that you’d compare it to. It’s a dirty job. Trust me. As a running back, it was something I didn’t look forward to doing.
Is there any player in the league today that reminds you of yourself?
Doug Martin. Ray Rice. They’re three-down backs. They help their team in the run game and the passing game, catching the ball and blocking. When I look at those guys, what they do and how they play, sometimes I think, “That’s what I do. That’s how I played. Those are some of the things that I did.”
You were really critical of the new penalty for running backs lowering the crown. Is that something you’ve had a change of heart about after watching the first few weeks of the preseason? Or are you still very much against that?
I’m still against it. I understand what they’re trying to accomplish. But what they tend to not understand is, and just understand this, when a receiver catches the football and he’s about to get hit, he ducks.
So, therefore, helmet-to-helmet contact happens but they don’t put that responsibility on the receiver. So when a running back is running with the ball, he’s about to get hit, he’s trying to duck. That responsibility on the runner is acceptable. I mean it’s...and like I told them, “What are you supposed to do? Run up there with your chin up and get busted in the face?” It’s a hard rule. Our officials do a great job and instant replay corrects our officials while holding them to a higher standard to get it right. I think that our game is policed better than any other sport that we watch and they’re making it harder on our officials.
Now, put this picture in your head. So, Adrian Peterson is running and he lowers his head and some guy stands in front of him and takes a charge, like basketball, to get that penalty called. How long before that happens? I know, if I was a defender, I’d do it, especially around the goal line.
Do you have any Super Bowl favorites right now or is it too early?
I’m still thinking, man. I’m still thinking. I actually have to answer that question later today and I’m still up in the air about my AFC team. I’ll give you my NFC team. It's the New Orleans Saints. I think they want vengeance and some teams really took advantage of this team last year. They have a chance of really doing something special this year now that they got [Coach Sean] Payton back. He’s just re-energized. I believe that he took a year off for something that the league has been about since football started, but he was the poster child for it. He took the suspension. He fell on the sword for the league and now they want payback.
As for my AFC team, I’m struggling with that one. We’ll find out. I want to say Denver. That’s the likely favorite. Or New England. I’m going to sit on my AFC team.