Legendary former Rams running back and Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk had questions he needed answered before getting vaccinated against COVID-19. He understands the hesitation some people are feeling about receiving a vaccination that’s only got an emergency use authorization instead of full FDA approval.
Faulk’s message to the people who still aren’t convinced: Talk to your doctor.
“Hopefully they understand that we’re not we’re not trying to bully them or tell them what to do or or use our fanfare to make them do anything. What we’re doing with this campaign is is letting them know that the best decision is an educated decision,” Faulk told SB Nation. “Where do you get that? Go to your health care provider, have the tough conversations, ask all the questions.
“And then when you make a decision, that will allow you to make the most educated decision possible with the information that’s given to you by your healthcare professional. Social media is not going to; the websites are not going to do that. It’s your healthcare provider — they can let you know if it’s if it’s the best decision possible for you.”
Faulk lost someone very dear to him to COVID-19 early in the pandemic: His high school coach, Wayne Reese Sr. Faulk shared the impact Reese had on him as a player and as a man.
“I lost my father at early age, and (Reese) was not just a coach, but a father figure and a role model. As men growing up in poverty stricken situations, sometimes you need to see a positive role model in order to to have something to want to emulate because there’s a lot of negative things out there that can grab you,” Faulk said. “So he’s not just responsible for the development of me as a football player by teaching me more about the game than I learned anywhere else; he’s responsible for the man, and we go through things, we learn lessons, but he was always somebody that when things were good, I called him, and then when things were bad, I called him.
“And to not have that access anymore because of COVID, it’s not fun, and it’s not fair. But as we know, life isn’t fair at times, but I will forever be indebted to this man, not just for teaching me how to be the best football player but for giving me a role model and teaching me how to be the best man I can be.”
The NFL announced recently that 91% of current players have received at least one COVID shot. But there are still some vocal holdouts. Faulk would encourage those players to talk through their concerns with a healthcare professional.
“Well, once again, a round of applause for the guys who represent that 91%. For guys that are holding out, the only thing I would say to them is, obviously, for various reasons, they’re making that decision to do so. But you know, the messaging doesn’t change,” Faulk said. “Make sure that the decision that you’re making and holding out is the best decision by getting the right information from a healthcare professional. That’s all I can say. I think it’s one of those things that, you’re standing where you’re standing, you feel the way you feel, and people have their convictions.
“And those convictions sometimes are the very same things that we use to get where we’re at in life. And this, this could be a huge decision. But in making that decision, you can never go wrong by making sure you get all the information, not just what you see on FOX or CNN or MSNBC; it’s more or less from someone who has nothing to gain from whether you get the shot or not. It’s just that healthcare professional, who cares about you, your family, and wants what’s best.”
There’s been plenty of discussion around the NFL’s approach to dealing with unvaccinated players this season. Faulk’s perspective? It’s a business decision.
“In the federal government and big business, they do the thing that that helps the majority,” he said. “And so the NFL, they want to make sure that they’re doing everything possible to provide a clean game that players playing — let’s just say they get every player and every coach on board, to commit. They all commit and they all get vaccinated. The NFL can rest their head at night as an entity by saying, we did everything we could to make sure that whatever happens in our game — so if guys contract it or come down with it and they’ve been vaccinated, at least they know that the player, the coach, the person working in the front office, they won’t die and their chances of surviving are greater.”
I couldn’t chat with Faulk and not ask him anything about football, so we chatted a little bit about what it was like to see wide receiver Isaac Bruce, his Greatest Show on Turf teammate, inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Faulk, quarterback Kurt Warner, and Orlando Pace.
“It‘s awesome. I think about getting guys into the Hall of Fame that you played with. It’s like playing golf,” Faulk said. “You know, you can go out and shoot a 59 and still feel like if you’d have made another putt, you’d have a shot at a better score. And it doesn’t change. I get Isaac, and I’m like, all right. So there’s Coach (Dick) Vermeil, there’s Coach (Mike) Martz, and there’s Torry Holt. You just continue to think of our guys that deserve to be in, because the class, the group of us is so awesome. And the best part about it is to have other guys that you play with on the last team you’re ever going to be on. This is the very last team you’re going to be on, you can’t be cut, you can’t be traded — you can’t even die off this team. You’re on this team forever, you’re immortal. And you just want to see the guys that you played with have the experience that you have been a part of this group. That’s amazing.”
Faulk also had some thoughts on what he expects to see out of the Rams this year (and the team that drafted him, the Indianapolis Colts).
“What we know from the Colts, obviously, defensively, they’re going to be good. Offensively? That’s the question,” Faulk said. “And I just hate to see — we’re already into it, a problem with Carson Wentz that came up in Philly with him. And now we already know that he’s going to miss some time. There’s a couple other guys that we hear are going to miss some time. I really felt like when you look at the landscape of the AFC south, it was them and the Titans. And now I look at it and I’m like, man, it’s just not looking as good for (the Colts). And we saw that the Titans did last year. So the Colts have their work cut out for them.
“With the Rams, having Matthew Stafford obviously — Jared Goff did a pretty good job, got them to the Super Bowl. But Matthew Stafford, he’s a guy who, I think he’s sick and tired of losing. And he’s an arm talent. The question is, how do you merge that? And for Matthew Stafford, man, you can’t find yourself in a better situation; you cannot find yourself with a better offensive coordinator, with a better defense. This is career defining for him. We’re gonna find out if it was the Lions who retired Barry Sanders, retired Calvin Johnson, or if it was Matthew Stafford, who just didn’t live up to the build coming out of Georgia.”
I asked Faulk if there was anything else he wanted to share with readers about vaccination.
“I want, whether it’s athletes or readers, or whomever it is out there: Make the best decision possible for you and your family,” Faulk said. “But don’t let social media, don’t let the media, or don’t let someone close to you really, really impact that decision. Get with some healthcare professionals, people that know about what it’s like to either administer the shot, know what it’s like, then have the professional acumen to answer your questions and make the best decision for you and your family. I encourage that.”
For more information on the NFL Alumni campaign to overcome vaccine hesitancy, you can visit their website.