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But the team MVP all three years was Faulk in a landslide.

“Guys would change their defense completely to deal with Marshall, and, obviously, he was able to take advantage of that,” said Martz, now the offensive coordinator for the Bears. “Once you found out what the matchups were, you could make an adjustment on the sideline with Marshall and he could take care of that immediately. In fact, he’d come to the sideline and understand it and say, `Hey, here’s what they’re doing. How about this?’ Pretty unusual.”

Off the field, Faulk became more than just a football icon in St. Louis.

He was a fan favorite with a special affinity for the city and area. He’s donated more than $500,000 to help St. Louis’ youth programs, still has a home in the city and says he’s still a Rams fan. Faulk’s newest effort is assisting with an animal rescue and disaster relief effort to help the tornado victims from Joplin, Mo.

“It’s really his kind heart and his desire to give back,” said Arthur Benjamin, a philanthropist and founder of American Dog Rescue. “I think it’s just incredible when someone takes their wealth and puts it into a foundation and tries to raise money for others.”

That’s the passion that drives Faulk now.

His charitable foundation is supportive of the Ninth Ward Field of Dreams project in his hometown and the Aztec Club in San Diego. And though his incredible stats — 12,279 yards rushing, 19,154 total yards and 136 career touchdowns — will define his professional life, Faulk insists it was never about the numbers or even the Hall of Fame.

He just wanted to be an example for everyone else.

“The hall is not a goal. Winning a Super bowl, being successful, being able to take care of your family, those are the things you look at,” Faulk said. “Look, there’s no fast track, no easy track, especially from where I came from. You try to take the most of it and learn from it and hope others learn from it. That’s what it is about.”