I wasn’t always a football fan.
There, I said it.
I grew up in Utah, a state built on John Stockton and Karl Malone, the heroes of my childhood who I spent countless hours watching with my grandpa.
The beehive state is distinctively void of a professional football team with most Utahans relying on transplanted fanhood for the nearby Denver Broncos or any team with room on the bandwagon.
This is why I want to recognize a man who inspired me to love football so much that I now want to build my career around it as a sports journalist.
His unparalleled skill and athleticism as the catalyst to one of the most prolific offenses in the history of the league drew me into the weekly Sunday ritual.
Marshall Faulk. Number 28. Superman.
Faulk, who will be inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame this weekend, transcended what it meant to be an “all-purpose back.”
He came to the Rams as a much needed jolt to a team that finally looked to shake its well-deserved title of NFL punching bag.
With Marshall in blue and gold and the surprise ascension of Kurt Warner, the Rams rode a high-octane offense orchestrated by Mike Martz to the tune of a Super Bowl victory.
As my eight-year-old mind began to wrap around what football was, I gravitated to the excitement and potential of the aptly named "Greatest Show on Turf" with Faulk as the centerpiece.
Admittedly, my favorite player was and is Torry Holt, but Faulk was like watching poetry in motion combined with a Beethoven symphony.
Whether it be a hand off between the tackles or a dish into the flat, Faulk could take it the distance while making defenders whiff as if he saw the play around him unfolding in slow motion.
On 340 touches from scrimmage, Faulk scored 12 times with 2,429 yards in an offense that scored 526 total points in 1999.
His impact was also measured not only in yards, but in the moments of inspiration he brought to the entire team.
His rush to pick up Az Hakim in order to stop the clock and his unspoken passing of the leadership torch to Kurt Warner resonate louder than the stats in the record books.
He went on to lead the Rams in rushing for five more seasons and was a part of the league’s top rated offense three seasons in a row, all the while exuding class and professionalism that is rare amongst top athletes.
As he goes into the Hall of Fame, it is vindication for me that he is finally recognized with the honor, accolades and timeless statue associated with entering Canton.
Just as Faulk cemented my football fanhood, he is now cemented into gridiron legend.
Superman has crossed the goal line once more, this time scoring a place in football history.