FoxboroKevin Faulk… after 13 seasons, all with the Patriots, one the best third down backs the game has ever seen, and certainly one of the most clutch, called it a career at the Hall at Patriot Place… Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick both spoke glowingly of Faulk, who was part of three championships, while competing in five Super Bowls. He leaves as the team’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards (12,349) and return yards (5,041). ”It’s truly been an honor to have the opportunity to coach you and to be on the team with you,” said Belichick, who pointed to the 60-plus game balls awarded to Faulk during his time. ”He’s the ultimate team player.” … ”He’s one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever had,” said Brady. ”No one was more clutch than Kevin.” Added Wilfork: ”He’s probably one of the best guys to ever be in the locker room when it comes down to a person, not just football.”’ Faulk spoke for nearly 20 minutes, thanking everyone from the field workers, to the dining staff, to the message therapists, to teammates, the organization, his family, and coach Belichick, a “one of a kind” coach.

And so endth an era.  The last remaining Patriot who was not brought in by Belichick is officially gone.  I’ll start with a fun fact: Of the 53 players on the roster when Belichick took over in 2000, only 14 were still around to win that first championship in 2001.  And two of them, Drew Bledsoe and Terry Glenn, played only minor roles.  Which means that in order to escape the Salary Cap Jail Bobby Grier and Pete Carroll had built for him, Belichick had to crawl to freedom through 500 yards of shit smelling foulness I can’t even imagine, and did so with only 12 guys.  And with all due respect to Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi and Lawyer Milloy, Kevin Faulk turned out to be as important as any of them.

You read those quotes from his coach and teammates and they confirm what our own eyes told us for 13 years.  That what Faulk accomplished far outweighed his numbers or his career rankings or anything quantifiable.  Tom E. Curran had a great piece on Faulk last Spring where he made the point that Faulk was THE best 3rd down back ever.  Larry Centers was a better receiver, Dave Meggett was a better punt returner and Darren Sproles posts better stats.  But none of them ever came up bigger in bigger situations that Faulk did.  He was a role player for sure, but a role player who flat out won games.  At least 60 of them if you go by Belichick, who tosses around game balls like they were manhole covers.  There are too many great Kevin Faulk moments to do him justice here.  But what I’ll always remember him for was that he had that unteachable, innate sense for where the 1st down markers were.  No one got to the sticks like he did.  The one time I can honestly remember him getting stopped was the legendary 4th & 2, and even then I was convinced he made it just because… well just because he’d never not made it before. But just to pick one moment of his as the best, I’ll take the direct snap 2-point conversion in Super Bowl XXwhatever.  The one against Carolina.  They hadn’t attempted a conversion all year.  And Faulk literally hadn’t scored a point all year.  But he scored those 2, which put the Pats up 29-22 in a game they won by a field goal.  But again, the numbers never told the story with him, but words like “honor,” “clutch,” “teammate” and “best guys ever” do.  Not a bad legacy for a guy who was drafted 40-something spots behind guys like Tim Couch and Akili Smith.  So Godspeed, Kevin Faulk.  See you in the Patriots Hall in five years..  @JerryThornton1