CANTON, Ohio – When he was officially enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night, Marshall Faulk became the first St. Louis Ram to join the game’s most exclusive fraternity.
As he looked out into a crowd of his former Rams teammates, Faulk couldn’t help but wish he had one more chance to be back in action with the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
“I would give anything right now to be in the huddle one minute, 80 yards down by six with the Greatest Show on Turf,” Faulk said. “Because that's when we were at our best with our backs against the wall.”
Unfortunately for Faulk and football fans everywhere, that opportunity won’t present itself anytime soon. But if nothing else, it’s entirely possible that in the next decade or so, Faulk and his teammates will get a few more opportunities to reminisce about the glory days right here in Canton.
Because while Faulk is the first member of those special Rams’ teams to get inducted, he certainly won’t be the last.
Faulk acknowledged that reality, speaking directly to teammates such as quarterback Kurt Warner, receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt and tackle Orlando Pace
“Kurt, I look forward to the day that I am sitting here witnessing you and other of my Ram teammates at this podium enjoying this experience,” Faulk said.
Indeed, for a team to put up the type of dominant offensive performances the Rams were able to put up and win as much as that group did over a three-year period, it’s not out of the question that there would be more than one elite player in the group.
For the Rams of those days, the aforementioned quartet is the players most likely to someday join Faulk in the Hall of Fame.
Warner, Bruce and Pace all retired last offseason and are four more years from eligibility. Holt is out of the game but not officially retired. He did not play last season and if he does not return to the game, it’s possible all four could become eligible for the first time all at once.
Linebacker Mike Jones, the man who made the tackle that clinched the victory that significantly bolsters all of the potential’s candidacy, sees himself making more trips to Canton to see more teammates go in.
“I hope so,” Jones said. “I think there are others on this team that should go in. Without a doubt, I think Isaac Bruce should be in the Hall of Fame. Orlando Pace has a great shot. Kurt Warner without a doubt is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play. I think there are four or five guys from our team that should be Hall of Famers.”
Warner’s production in St. Louis was enough to draw attention to his candidacy but his late-career revival in Arizona and near miss of a second Super Bowl title has probably propelled him into first-ballot territory.
Bruce has the numbers and the big stage moments on a resume that is nearly flawless. Of course, he could be held back by the glut of receivers that are still waiting to enter the Hall of Fame or could be on the ballot in the next few years.
Players like Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Tim Brown are still awaiting their Hall calls and players like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jimmy Smith will be eligible soon.
Still, Bruce is one of only three wideouts in league history to reach 15,000 receiving yards.
Pace probably paved the way for the franchise left tackle, setting the tone for a golden era of blindside protectors that will also draw long looks from the Hall of Fame.
Like Bruce, Pace figures to have a similar glut of talented tackles in front of him though he also figures to get his time even if it’s not on the first ballot.
Willie Roaf is eligible now and Jonathan Ogden and Walter Jones will be soon. None played in an offense that required them to sustain pass blocks for as long as Pace but all figure to get in.
While perhaps none of that trio is a lock to end up in Canton, all have a strong case that will probably end up in enshrinement even if it doesn’t happen right away.
“I think it’s the first of a lot the guys on the team going,” Holt said. “I’m hoping that it goes down for us and I’m hoping that we get a lot more of our guys going in.”
Holt himself might have a little more of an uphill battle. While few wideouts can match the consistent excellence Holt provided in his prime, the aforementioned group of receivers eligible now and the way pass catchers are viewed in this era of the passing game could make matters difficult for Holt.
Another couple of years of high level production might have made Holt more of a cinch but that doesn’t mean he won’t someday get his time in the spotlight.
Regardless of how it all plays out over the next decade or so, there’s little doubt that the Greatest Show on Turf will get to enjoy another de facto reunion in Canton sooner than later.
And if, for some reason, Faulk is the only one to receive the game’s highest honor, Warner says it’d be OK because to him Faulk represents a team that for all of its amazing individual talent was still better as a group than it ever was individually.
“That’s kind of the cool thing,” Warner said. “Marshall was the first one out (of football) and the first one in (the Hall of Fame). You talk about different guys on our team and you look around the stands and what we accomplished, yeah there could be a number of guys that go in. I think it’s fitting Marshall went in first because he meant so much to our organization, our team. It was all about the team. It was a bunch of guys who were willing to do whatever they could for the team. Because of that we had a great deal of success individually and as a team. There are a few of us that could go in but I think Marshall represents the whole for us. If we don’t get any more, that’s OK as well but it was neat to have one that represented what we accomplished and what we did.”