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RB Kevin Faulk latest to hear Hall call

We take a look back at the career of Patriots Running Back Kevin Faulk (1999-2011), who was named a 2016 finalist for the Patriots Hall of Fame. Vote now at www.patriots.com/2016hof

When the idea of having a team hall of fame was broached, it's likely that players like Kevin Faulk were in mind. Playing on star-studded teams that won three Super Bowl titles, Faulk was neither the biggest nor brightest. But few would argue that his contributions were as important as anyone's.

Faulk earned a spot in the Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon this week, edging cornerback Raymond Clayborn and linebacker Mike Vrabel via fan vote. His induction ceremony will take place Aug. 1 in the NRG Plaza outside the Hall and will be open to the public. He will also be honored at halftime of the home-opener against the Miami Dolphins Sept. 18.

His decision last month to don a Tom Brady jersey while announcing the Patriots third-round pick at the draft no doubt put him over the top, but in reality Faulk shouldn't have needed the boost and now becomes the 25th member of the team's Hall.

"First off I was at a very familiar place – in the weight room working out," Faulk said via a conference call with the media Wednesday afternoon. "Mr. Kraft called and I hadn't talked to him in a while. It was about a 15-minute conversation. We talked about football, my career there and what I meant to the team as well as for him and his wife and the Kraft family."

Kraft offered his thoughts on the versatile running back in a statement released by the team.

"Kevin Faulk helped deliver three Super Bowl championships and redefined the way an entire generation of Patriots fans celebrated football in New England," Kraft said. "Despite entering the NFL as the second-leading rusher in SEC history, he arrived in New England without ego or pretense. He was a selfless and tireless contributor to the team, accepting every challenge and excelling in many roles throughout his 13-year career. His work ethic, enthusiasm for the game and clutch performances, especially on third down, earned him the respect of his coaches, teammates and fans alike. 

"For all his contributions and memorable moments on the field, some of my fondest memories were of Kevin's contributions off the field. He earned our Ron Burton Community Service award in 2009 and often involved his family in his volunteer work, teaching his children the values of giving back."

As Kraft mentioned, Faulk arrived in New England as a second-round pick in 1999 out of LSU, where he was the SEC's second all-time rushing leader and most versatile running backs. During his early years in Foxborough he served as the Patriots lead back, but injuries eventually pushed him into a valuable role that he filled remarkably well for more than a decade – the team's so-called third-down back.

I'm very much prideful in the role I filled," Faulk said. "Whenever I got the call that they brought Antowain Smith in [in 2001] I thought I was being put on the backburner and wouldn't get as many reps. But as time goes by and you last 13 years in the backfield and understand and know what that role is, it's bigger than most people think."

He currently ranks fifth in team history with 3,607 yards rushing but it was as a receiver that Faulk became a legend. He caught 431 passes, fifth-most in team history and the most for a running back, during his 13-year career. Many of those receptions came in key moments to extend drives, often on third down to move the chains. His ability to make huge plays when they were needed most became a Patriots staple throughout the 2000s.

For his career, he played in 161 games and averaged 4.2-yards per rush with 16 touchdowns, added 3,701 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, returned 181 kicks for 4,098 yards and two touchdowns and returned 101 punts for 943 yards.

Faulk is also the Patriots all-time leader in all-purpose yards (12,349) and kickoff return yards and leading return specialist, totaling 5,041 combined return yards.
In the decade of the 2000s, he was one of just six players to rush for more than 3,000 yards and gain more than 3,000 yards receiving, joining Tiki Barber, Marshall Faulk, Michael Pittman, LaDanian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook.

As impressive as all of those numbers are, there is no stat that truly defines what he meant to the team. Whether it was a masterful one-handed, over-the-shoulder touchdown catch during a comeback at Chicago to beat the Bears, picking up a blitz to give Tom Brady was extra second to make a throw or one of his patented direct snap rushes for a key two-point conversion, Faulk always seemed to deliver.

There were some pitfalls along the way – most notably some injuries and issues with ball security – but he persevered through it all.

"It was what it was," he said of the fumbling problems. "It was a controllable situation but I never looked at it as pressure. I was at a banquet last night and Drew Brees spoke and he said, 'Don't look at adversity as something negative. Turn it into a positive.' 

"Just being ready. Understanding that the game wasn't just about you. You try to tell younger athletes all the time you can't play angry because you're not getting touches because if you do that you're not going to be ready when your team really needs you."

When asked to mention some of his memories from his time with the Patriots, Faulk had "so many pop into his head" but singled out the first Super Bowl title in 2001, won in his home state of Louisiana in the same stadium he won a high school state championship.

So now he joins former teammates Drew Bledsoe, Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi and Willie McGinest wearing a red blazer this summer. Few Patriots are more deserving.

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