The first question, since it’s the one on many folks’ minds when it comes to the 13-year veteran: have you made a decision on your playing future?
“That’s probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in a long time – a very long time. It’s what’s been taking care of me and my family for a long time and I have to make a decision based upon what’s best for me and my family. Right now and with the emotions that are going on and with the game that just happened last week, I know everyone was speculating that I was going to make a decision, probably today or what not; it’s kind of early. I don’t want to tie my emotions into exactly what went on Sunday that passed, what went on the course of the season, I just think it’s something that I have to sit down and talk with my family and my agent, teammates, former teammates that I’ve talked to, people that I really trust, for me to base my decision off of,” Faulk said.
During our conversation, which lasted over 20 minutes, there were times when Faulk sounded like a man who has made up his mind – but he stopped short of saying he’s retiring, leaving the door open, however slightly, for a possible return with New England for the 2012 season.
“The love of the game,” is what makes it so difficult to say he’s done, Faulk said. “The love of where I am. It might not have been the best of times this year, but I still love where I am. It’s given me a lot of great memories; a lot of great times. I grew as a person. I grew as a football player. I grew as a father, husband – just because of football. It’s great for me; awesome.”
Faulk was told the morning of Super Bowl Sunday by running backs coach Ivan Fears that he wouldn’t be active for the game. He went back to his hotel room and cried a bit, then read his Bible until it was time to head to Lucas Oil Stadium. Once he was there, he turned his focus to his teammates and getting them ready for the game they had all spent so much time and effort preparing for.
After returning home from Indianapolis – Randy Moss was waiting for him in his driveway on Monday evening, wanting to give some support to his friend and talk about the game – Faulk was asked about not being in uniform, and spotted a picture of Troy Brown as he answered.
“And I said to myself, ‘if he can do it, I can do it.’ [in terms of being inactive for what was the last game of his career]. Why not? I look up to him. Everything he’s done. And why couldn’t I do it?,” Faulk said.
“That morning, when I got the word that I wasn’t going to dress…wow. I went in the room, cried a little bit, because 75 percent of me knew that this could be my last game playing, not playing, just dressing. If I dress there could be that chance that I could play. So that really crushed me a whole lot…
“(I took) my exit physical after the game and the trainers give me a big hug and that’s when I knew, like ‘wow, that might be it.’ Going through that evening after the game and worrying about the loss and being like, wow, guys have another opportunity to come back next year and do it again. Mine is very slim, and it’s not by my choice this time.”
Faulk is slated to be a free agent, so any talk of a 14th season starts with the Patriots offering him a deal.
If he has played his last snap, Faulk retires as the Patriots’ all-time leader in all-purpose yards, the leader in receptions by a running back, the leader in kickoff returns and kickoff return yardage, and as a member of the franchise’s 50th anniversary team.
There will be more from Faulk in tomorrow’s Globe.