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Aztec Great Marshall Faulk On Giving Back To Community


How is one of SDSU's most famous alumnus continuing to give back to the community? We speak to Aztec great, and soon-to-be Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, about the work his foundation does in San Diego. Plus, we'll discuss Marshall's favorite memories from his playing days at SDSU and in the NFL.

Event: 3rd Annual Aztec For Life Homecoming Celebration

  • San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego
  • Friday, October 15, 2010
  • 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Age Requirement: All ages
  • Cost: $100

Full Event Information

How is one of SDSU's most famous alumnus continuing to give back to the community? We speak to Aztec great, and soon-to-be Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, about the work his foundation does in San Diego. Plus, we'll discuss Marshall's favorite memories from his playing days at SDSU and in the NFL.


Marshall Faulk, SDSU Alumni, and former NFL All-Pro running back. Marshall now works as an analyst for the NFL Network.

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. When the names of the 2011 NFL halloffamers are announced next year, there's a good chance my next guest will be among them. Retired running back Marshall Faulk is an NFL superstar and an SDSU Aztec legend. His success with the Aztecs in the early '90s developed into a stellar NFL career with the Indianapolis cults and the St. Louis Rams. Now he's an analyst for the NFL Total Access on the NFL network. But that's not all that occupies his time. Over the years, his nonprofit Marshall Faulk Foundation has given more than a million dollars to youth programs across the country and right here in San Diego. He's here today at SDSU for the Aztec For Life homecoming celebration that happens tomorrow night. And it's a pleasure to welcome Marshall Faulk to these days. Hi, Marshall.

MARSHALL FAULK: Thanks for having me. How are you?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm doing great. How are you?

MARSHALL FAULK: I'm good, I'm good.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Good. I want our listeners to join the conversations if they'd like to. What is your favorite memory of Marshall Faulk day and Aztec of playing pro football? If you have a question for Marshall Faulk, give us a call at 18888955727. Now I'm just - you just told me that you come back from the campus with a certain frequencies. A lot has changed, though.

MARSHALL FAULK: A lot. The campus has grown a lot. A pretty campus that I thought it was when I went to school here, it's gotten bigger, more prettier. It's getting better and better. And it's always nice to come around here and reminisce. It takes me back to my younger years. What I call, when I was going from being a boy to a young man. I always think about the fun we had here, all the opportunities that you are afforded when you do come to college. It just takes me back to those times.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You ever get lost since it's changed so much?

MARSHALL FAULK: Although it has changed and there are building, it's pretty much there are a lot of things that are the same things around here. And I still know my way around pretty good.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You call San Diego home now, right?

MARSHALL FAULK: I do. I split time here, between here and Texas and San Diego -- and, I mean, and St. Louis. I kind of bounce around the three. I do that because it's, you know, it's just, it's they're all three different places. I'm from the South, so I go to Texas. I played in St. Louis. I love the fan base there. And obviously, I love, love San Diego. This is it definitely feels like home here when I'm here because I always say this is where it started for me.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with Marshall Faulk and taking your calls at 18888955727. And since we are talking about SDSU, there's a caller on the line who wants to talk about it too. Jeff is calling us from Mission Valley. Good morning, Jeff. Welcome to These Days. Jeff, are you there?

JEFF: I'm here.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Hi, welcome to These Days. What's your comment?

JEFF: My comment, I never get a chance to run it to Marshall. But I did have the pleasure of having him in one of the public administrations classes when I was in San Diego State. And he was a great individual. When you knew him then, he was always very humble. He was never conceited. He was never arrogant, and he turned out to be a great individual. I'm just really proud of how you turned out, Marshall. And watching your game and what you've done for the community is a great thing. I wish I could come to the fundraiser to contribute, but I'm part of the rank of unemployed at this time. And one of these days, I'll get to meet with you. But I have taken some pictures with you. And I know he probably won't remember me by name because he has lots of fans but he hold a dear place in my heart. When I do meet him, hopefully he'll remember me.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Jeff, thank you so much for calling in.

MARSHALL FAULK: Thank you, Jeff. Sorry to hear about your current employment status. But thank you for the kind compliments and I'm proud to say I went to school here in San Diego State.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, I want to talk to you the Marshall Faulk Foundation. I noted in the beginning that you started in this foundation really early in your NFL career. What was you motivation?

MARSHALL FAULK: Actually when can we came to school here.


MARSHALL FAULK: I came to school here and I understood that I mean, right off the bat, starting with my roommates that, I mean I was lucky to be here. I was one of the less fortunate. And when I started to communicate with guys on there team and people in college, there weren't many people that were from the same situation or background that I was from. And right then and there, I understood, man, the task of getting where I'm at right now is, is hard. I mean, it is difficult, and when you're in the mix of doing it, you really don't pay attention to it. And so, as I went along through my college my collegiate career, that was a mental note that I always had. And even when I was here, I find myself with some other guys that played ball here going over and talking to kids. And just mingling with them because those kids were fans of me when I was here at San Diego State as well. And just letting them know that, hey. I didn't go to Patron Henry or I didn't go to the Tory Pines or, you know, those weren't the kind of schools that I went to. So sometimes you just want to identify with someone and say, listen, has this person sat in this seat? And I was the person saying, “Listen, I've sat in that their chair. I've been you. You can be where I am. You just have to put forth the effort.” And so that's how it all started and my first year, my first year in NFL. I knew what I wanted to do is start with football camps, getting youths involve in football camp, and then a golf tournament and other various things, and other charities to raise money and fund and awareness with the inner cities and the problems with most city kids have when you talk about let's graduate high school, how about let's go to college.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You're originally from New Orleans, right?


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How did you get from New Orleans to San Diego State?

MARSHALL FAULK: The whole recruiting process, it's all about the recruiting process. Unfortunately for me, during the time of the recruiting thing, my father passed away. It was really difficult for me to deal with all the rhetoric, rhetoric that goes along with recruiting a college. Recruiting a high school athlete to come to your college. They saw your hopes and dreams of what it was going to be like, what it can be like. And for me, I wanted to be to school that was not just about sports. But that also was going to provide me an opportunity to grow and maybe call a city home. And you know, there were a lot of great college towns, there were a lot of great colleges in towns that were all about the college. I visited Nebraska. I went to university of Miami. I went to Texas A&M, Alabama, all those schools, LSU. Those schools weren't schools that I could see myself living in the city after school was done whether I made it in football or not. And I got off the plane here. And they take you down to 163. And I'm this kid who hasn't seen many trees other than when I went down to the park. And it's pavements and brick. And I'm driving and we're coming down the 163. And when you go out of the 163, it's like there's San Diego. I was like, my god, I can live here. And from that point forward, added on to it the fact that I wanted to play running back, Coach Luganville and Curtis Johnson was like, we'll let you play running back. I was like, fine, I'll go do school there. It was easiest decision for me they were being honest with me. This was the place that I wanted to be. So it was easy for me to choose San Diego State. Regardless of what the football was like.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are taking listener calls, taking your call at 18888955727. Reggie is on the line calling from San Diego. Good morning, Reggie, welcome to These Days.

REGGIE: Oh, good morning. I'd like to make a comment.


REGGIE: I remember when Marshall Faulk take one of the first games at San Diego State at Qualcomm. And I remember him. He was wasn't starting at the time. But the starting runner back, he got hurt. And they put Marshall in. And he scored five touchdowns. And I remember Marshall running and I saw three guys had angle on him. And he cut left, and he cut right, and then I knew, this is some god. This is special. He will be special. And he took his talent and he perfected. It became a special person. That's the comment I wanted to say.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, Reg, thanks for the call.

MARSHALL FAULK: Thank you, Reggie. That's heartfelt right there. It was definitely, and I say this because I always reflect back to, you know, when it was called the Murf playing, Jack Murphy.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Jack Murphy played back then.

MARSHALL FAULK: I remember that. I remember those days. It's funny. I played 13 years professionally. And I remember my first year, my last year, and the year I won the Super Bowl. Those are the years that I remember. In college I remember my time here. I remember games, I remember things that experiences. And I mean, those were such fond times that, you know it's the essence of why you play sport. It's ultimate team game. Not to mention it's a bunch of kids playing because they love to do it. You're not getting play paid to do it. And it's fun.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. You were starting to have really great success as caller pointed out. Right off the bat, I mean. You started getting a lot of attention in your freshman year as an Aztec, and you know, for some young guys, that taste of fame is a hard thing to handle. How were you able to handle it?

MARSHALL FAULK: I basically my family, my family never treating me like I was I'm the youngest of six boys and my older brothers never starting treating me like I was a star. My mother never look at sports as an avenue to be treated differently. She I mean, I was still her baby. I was still the youngest. I still going to do all the things that I did when I went home. Regardless of whether I was big super star athlete, big man on campus. And I think those are the things that humble you. I think sometimes kids lose perspective because their family lose perspective. Granted you want to know a star, you want people to be a star, but more than anything you want them to stay grounded. I don't know if my family did that on purpose, but I always thank them for, for treating me the way that they had always treated me. And that they've continued to do that throughout my career, throughout professional career. Throughout my life, my older brothers, I'm still they little brothers regardless of what I've been through, what advice I can give to them. And even my mother. And regardless of what I bought her, what situations I've put her in, that are much better, I'm still her son. I don't get to tell her what to do.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Have you ever tried?

MARSHALL FAULK: I've tried. Trust me, I have tried and I've lost that battle every time.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with Aztec -- former Aztec star, Aztec legend Marshall Faulk and possible 2011 NFL hall of famer. And taking you call at 18888955727. How do you feel about that? Your name is right up there when people are talking about, you know, you're going to be eligible in 2011. How do you feel about possibly being one of the people this next year to be named to the NFL hall of fame?

MARSHALL FAULK: It's exciting and scary at the same time. It's I'm sure that it's the greatest feeling is hearing your name called at the Super Bowl. And at the same time, the worst feeling is not hearing your name called. So, those are the emotions that you feel. There's no such thing as automatic lock. You know, there's no guidelines for what you need to do in order to get in. I mean you play the game. The people who vote, they obviously feel you deserve to be in first ballot you deserve to be in second or whenever they feel that you are getting in. So that makes it kind of scary as to, once you're done, you look back and say, man, I hope I've done enough.


MARSHALL FAULK: And when I look back at my career, I don't say I hope I've done enough. I just say I did all that I could do. I gave my all. I played, you know, I played every game like it was my last game. Enjoyed it. I loved it. If the people who vote could not see the passion or they did see the passion and the love and the joy that I have and that I had and still have for the game of football, then I feel bad for them. But if they do see it, then thank you. I welcome, if that opportunity comes, and I do make it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And what would it mean to be in the hall of fame?

MARSHALL FAULK: You know, I don't know. I honestly say, I cannot say that I know at this point in time because I'm not going to say I downplay it, but I kind of put it on the back burner. I keep it in reserve because I don't want to be disappointed if it doesn't happen. And I don't want t be up in arms. I understand it takes time. You know, sometimes everybody may not agree how I played and saw it for what it, for what I saw it as and what other people saw it as. I mean, everybody don't see the game through the same set of eyes, so I would be high. I would be elated I would by ecstatic. Just having an opportunity that this is my year. But I don't want to deal with the let down because I don't want to look at football and be upset with it because I love this game.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So we'll just have to ask you next year.


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now I want to get back to the Marshall Faulk Foundation. I read that your foundation as youth program Indianapolis, St. Louis , New Orleans, here in San Diego. You paid back all the communities.

MARSHALL FAULK: I do and I try to help and I try to leave a footprint on the cities that gave me my opportunity and most of the time when people read that and they say, how do you do that when you're here? Well, there's programs and there's things that you start. And there's always other organizations that you pass those things that continue to support. Because if you're not here that time you can't give it your all and you can't keep the focus on in which you need. And so, these things that we've started, we have been fortunate enough to have other athletes look at these things that they want to do and they want to be affiliated with. And they pick up the program and carry it on and they'll pass it along to some. And these kids, they'll keep their dreams and their programs will live on. The program becomes bigger than my name being attached to it. It starts on live on its own because you start to see the benefits that are reaped from these programs by these kids. And the companies, the backers although I pulled them in and they joined me in doing it, the ultimate does is to get them to share the vision and when you can get them to share the vision and see it, then it doesn't matter whether a celebrity is attached to it or not. It's a good cause. A good cause is a good cause.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now what organizations here in San Diego get the benefit of the Marshall Faulk foundation?

MARSHALL FAULK: There's a bunch. What we're doing this tomorrow, the 15th, the Jacky Robberson, YMCA. They're one of the programs that I'm heavily affiliated with because, I mean, the Y gave me an opportunity. When I was a good I played basketball at the Y. Baseball as the Y, that was the only place that I ever was tutored at. We didn't have, as a kid growing on the project, you can't afford tutors. I got help with my homework that Y. I learned how to swim at the Y. The Y did a lot for me. So now I look at that Y and I identify that Y because that's the kind of Y that I grew up at. That's the kind of Y that instilled a lot of values in me and I believe that those kids, hopefully they could identify with someone like myself. And because I didn't have that I didn't have anyone that I could identify with that could create a vision for me and I hope that I could create a vision for them to move on in their lives. Not a professional athlete, but to be whatever they choose to be in life. The other one is the athletic club. It used to be Aztec Athletic Foundation. Now it's the Aztec Club.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see. And those the proceeds from event the Aztec For Life event are going to be going to your foundation? And some of it is going to find its way to the organization?

MARSHALL FAULK: It will come to the foundation and then it'll go to the others.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly. I wanted to ask you now you are an analyst with the NFL. You're on the other side of the microphone.


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. What is that like? I mean, you know, you know, what these guys are going through on the paying field. So does it give you a sense of power to talk about them now? To analyze them the way you used to be analyzed?

MARSHALL FAULK: What I try to do is, and you said it, you know. Like I know and I have to remember that I know. A lot of people that sit in my position, they forget what it's like to play the game and they forget how hard it is to get 11 men to do the right thing for one play to go well. If you have the ball 60 times, you have to do that 60 times. I mean, just imagine if you had to do something right 60 1 time. You have to do it right one time 60 times. How do you do it right? Just imagine having 11 guys going that for 60 plays. I know how hard this game is, and I try not to take, I shouldn't say. Try not. I don’t take shots at players. I talk about what I see and what I believe and what I feel, and how I feel the game should be played and that's that. I'm comfortable with that. I don't worry about if I have to walk in the locker room because my eyes are not lying to me. And if they're telling me what I believe what I see and if they're telling me story and the story is different, and I'm talking about someone, they're welcome to approach me and say, listen I know what you saw. It can be conveyed that way but this is what really happened. And I'll say, thank you. But I can only tell the viewers what I see. And that's it. I don't create the story, I don't make up the story. And it's not I see. And I'm talking about what I see. You can see what I'm talk about.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You have to call other commentators sometimes, about hey look, you know, what you just say to me. These guys have to get it right 60 times.

MARSHALL FAULK: You know, I don't. I kind of stay away from it. Everybody have their own techniques. Some guys, they choose to rub the athlete a certain way. Some guys, like I said they forget had you hard it is. This is instatement that I hear it irritates me when they say this. I can't believe he did that. If you play the game of football, you should know that that can happen. Whatever it is. Now maybe he should not. Maybe at his skill set, that should not be a habit or problem that he has. But, you should never say, you cannot believe. I mean, it's a game. Anything can happen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You're taking us through so much, Marshall Faulk. Thank you so much for coming in. I really appreciate it.

MARSHALL FAULK: Thanks for having me.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to let everybody to know, the Aztec for life homecoming celebration takes place this Friday at 7:00 p.m. it's at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni center on the campus SDSU with all proceeds from the event benefit the Marshall Faulk Foundation. If you've like to comment please go online. Coming up, it's the weekend preview here on KPBS.

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