Lenny Moore, Lydell Mitchell, Tom Matte and Alan Ameche were among the headliners during the club's first three decades. The past two decades have included outstanding talents in Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James.
The club's first-round draft pick in 1994 is most noteworthy as well.
Marshall Faulk arrived with the Colts as the second overall choice that year from San Diego State. Faulk was joining an organization that was trying to establish itself after three winning seasons in its first decade in Indianapolis. His impact was immediate, his style – dazzling.
Faulk rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns in his career debut. He totaled 104 rushing yards in his second outing to become then only the seventh NFL player to open a career with consecutive 100+ games.
Faulk would play 77 games for the Colts in five seasons, rushing for 5,320 yards and 42 touchdowns, while catching 297 passes for 2,804 yards and nine touchdowns. He amassed 8,124 scrimmage yards before continuing his career in St. Louis. Faulk had seven seasons with the Rams, ending up with 12,279 yards and 100 touchdowns rushing, 767 receptions for 6,875 yards and 36 touchdowns and 19,154 scrimmage yards.
Faulk was the Pro Bowl MVP as a rookie and was voted to seven Pro Bowls. He was the
Associated Press NFL MVP in 2000 and the AP NFL Offensive Player-of-the-Year in 2000 and 2001. Faulk was a three-time first-team All-Pro and was a part of one world champion.
This week, he receives an illustrious honor – a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Faulk is a part of a seven-member class that will join the game's greats. He is being inducted along with Richard Dent, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Ed Sabol, Deion Sanders and Shannon Sharpe.
For Faulk, it is the culmination of a great career, and the magnitude of the moment is one he recognizes.
"It is up there, individual accomplishment-wise," said Faulk. "Obviously, this will never supercede winning a Super Bowl because that's the ultimate team goal. When you think about playing this game and what the caliber of guys who are in the Hall of Fame means to the NFL and its success, now to be one of those guys is a tremendous honor, a tremendous honor. It's humbling, period. This is an honor beyond honors. The guys I'm going in with, what a great class we have. We cover from old to young, guys who pioneered their positions to Ed Sabol pioneered putting the NFL on television. What we do is we always match classes (of HOF inductees), but, boy, this class is a special one."
Faulk had a special career, but his approach never was to take sight off what he needed to accomplish. The fruits of his labor – accolades – were something he did not dwell on while his career unfolded. He never once thought about this ultimate moment.
"Never did I think about it until I was done playing," said Faulk. "That's the kind of how my mentality throughout my career was with accolades and things like that. I always took them (honors) in stride and felt like if I kept doing the things I needed to do and we continued to win football games that it would take care of itself. Whatever was coming to me would come."
How special Faulk could be was the reason he was drafted so high. Ted Marchibroda was entering his third year as the club's coach, and he appreciated Faulk's abilities from the outset of training camp.
"The first two things that come to mind to me about Marshall Faulk are that I don't recall how many mini-camps we had prior to training camp, and it was not as many as there are today, but when he reported to camp he knew all of his assignments," said Marchibroda, Faulk's head coach from 1994-95. "He didn't miss an assignment, so right away you realized we had an intelligent football player, in addition to a natural athlete. He was on top of everything, which was an indication of his intelligence, determination and willingness to learn. The second thing that impressed me the most about him was the standpoint that in his second or third step he was running almost full speed. He was able to do that and be quicker in that respect more than any other back I'd had ever seen.
"Marshall had his own style. He was just a natural athlete. He was a great runner. Marshall had great, great vision. He could cut on a dime. The good thing about him was that he could make the big play running as well as in the passing game. He certainly is one who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Marshall backed it up with his ability."
The football intellect Faulk possessed came from the playing field of Carver High School in his native city of New Orleans. His head coach honed a fertile mind. Faulk's physical abilities also translated to other sports at Carver and later served him well in reaching Canton, Ohio.
"I was fortunate and blessed that football came I wouldn't say easy, but the learning of plays, when a play was drawn up…understanding what needed to be done, it was easy," said Faulk. "My high school coach really stressed and put a lot of pressure on me playing different positions that I had to learn a lot of football. Only playing one position (in college and the NFL), that was easy. I only had to learn running back, where I had to learn receiver, quarterback and running back in high school. Ted (Marchibroda) and what he asked of us as a team in his years there and my early years there I believe it made me the player that I was. I was able to play a whole game and never came out of a game. My first year there, those two weeks of two-a-days were probably the toughest time I've ever had in football. Once I got through that, I felt like there was nothing that I could not get through.
"Having the ability to accelerate faster than most (guys was a strength). I was one of the faster guys in high school, but because I started quick I had to run the first leg (in relays). It was rare you put the fastest guy on the first leg, but I gave us such a jump. It (his acceleration) was a huge part of my success being able to start so fast. It was something I used to my advantage, and it definitely had a lot to do with my success in the NFL."
Faulk played five solid seasons in Indianapolis. He remembers the experience positively and for how it prepared him for his years in St. Louis.
"(It was) a great learning process. I remember coming from San Diego State with a chip on my shoulder feeling like I had to prove that I could play in the NFL. I was a fiery, 21-year-old kid who wanted the football and wanted to make things happen. I was lucky to have a coach in Gene Huey who not only took the time to coach me, but to mentor me and to teach me the appreciation of what has to be done before me to make a play what it was, the learning process, the ups and downs. Everything that propelled me once I left Indianapolis and became the player I was, was ingrained in me from being there."
"Marshall Faulk was truly a one-of-a-kind football player. He was a runner with immense skills who combined speed, elusiveness, immediate burst and power," said Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. "Marshall was an outstanding receiver who could be put in any formation, run every route and make every catch. He was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. Marshall's ability to read defenses was as good as any quarterback. Marshall and I played together during my rookie year. He was a tremendous presence for me, and I always will be grateful to him for helping me that year. I loved watching him play, and it is only right that he is taking his place in Canton among the greatest players who have played the game. There will never be another like him."
As he stands with his seven-member inductee class on a stage holding previous men who have received the NFL's highest individual honor, Faulk will have emotions. What those emotions are remain to be seen. Faulk does not know what the moment will hold.
"I wish I knew. I have no idea," said Faulk. "I promise you I have no idea what to expect from myself. Whatever they (his emotions) are, they will be real. I can say that. You cannot prepare for what's about to happen."
After he proceeds through that moment, he will be enshrined forever with the greats of the game. He still will have a special message for Colts fans.
"I just want to say, thank you," said Faulk. "I was young, immature and maybe had run-ins with a bunch of them. I want to thank them for giving me my space. I want to thank them for every dime they spent for tickets coming to support me. I want to thank them for right now, for when I'm in Indianapolis for the Combine or to cover a Colts game how supportive they are of me still. That's just a dedication to the city of Indianapolis and their fans and how they rally behind football. When I was there, basketball was the big show. Now, football has taken over. It's great to see that city rally behind what the Colts have done thus far. I'm just glad to have been even a little part of it, I'm glad to say I was a part of it."
MARSHALL FAULK YEAR-BY-YEAR WITH THE COLTS
Was 314-1,282, 11 TDs rushing, 52-522, 1 TD receiving for 1,804 scrimmage yards in 16
starts…was consensus NFL Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year, a Pro Bowl starter and the Pro Bowl MVP…set eight club rookie marks and tied another…was first Colts rookie 1,000+ rusher and ranked 3rd in AFC rushing, 5th in NFL…seasonal scrimmage yards ranked 2nd in club history and 4th-most ever by NFL rookie…366 combined rushes and receptions ranked 3rd-highest seasonal mark in club history…tallied 40.9% of club's seasonal net yards, 2nd-highest in team history (41.8%, Eric Dickerson, 1988)…figured in 366 of club's 899 plays (40.7%), 314 of 495 rushing attempts (63.4%) and 1,282 of 2,060 rushing yards (62.6%)…held 112.75 scrimmage yards/game average…was 7th NFL player to open career with consecutive 100-yard rushing games and had four 100+ outings…had receptions in each outing.
Was 289-1,078, 11 TDs rushing, 56-475, 3 TDs receiving for 1,553 scrimmage yards in 16
starts…earned second Pro Bowl bid…led team in rushing attempts, rushing yards and receptions…ranked 5th in AFC rushing, 12th in NFL…became 13th NFL back to post 1,000+ seasons in first two years…became 2nd Colt to open career with two 10+-TD seasons…became then third Colts player with consecutive 1,000+ seasons…had 345 combined rushes and receptions…totaled 31.6% of club's net yards…figured in 345 of club's 961 plays (35.9%), 289 of 478 rushing attempts (60.5%) and 1,078 of 1,855 rushing yards (58.1%)…had receptions in each outing.
Was 198-587, 7 TDs rushing, 56-428 receiving for 1,015 scrimmage yards in 13 starts…missed
three outings after early-season toe injury…had third consecutive season with 50+ receptions, including four or more games with eight receptions…had receptions in every outing.
Was 264-1,054, 7 TDs rushing, 47-471, 1 TD receiving for 1,525 scrimmage yards in 16
starts…had four 100+ rushing outings to tie seasonal-high of four in 1994…tied then club records of Eric Dickerson (3) and Lydell Mitchell (3) for most 1,000+ seasons…1,525 scrimmage yards ranked 4th in AFC, 8th in NFL…seven 100+ scrimmage yards games ranked behind nine in 1994 for highest seasonal career totals…totaled 31.3% of club's net yards, the third time in four seasons exceeding 30.0%...had receptions in every outing to push career consecutive streak to 61 games, then second in club history (62, WR-Jessie Hester).
Was 324-1,319, 6 TDs rushing, 86-908, 4 TDs receiving for 2,227 scrimmage yards in starting 15 of 16 outings…earned third Pro Bowl bid…joined RBs-Lenny Moore and Lydell Mitchell as then only Colts to open career with five consecutive 1,000+ scrimmage yards seasons…set club record with 267 scrimmage yards at Baltimore 11/29 (17-192 rush/7-75 receiving)…4th 1,000+ rushing season set then club mark…had four 100+ games to tied seasonal-bests from 1994 and 1997…
totaled 43.5% of club's net yards (2,227-5,116), the fourth time in five seasons exceeding 30.0%...accounted for 42.6 percent of gross yards, then the 5th-highest seasonal total in NFL history behind performances of O.J. Simpson, Walter Payton, Cliff Battles and Dickerson…led club rushers for fifth time, tying then club records of Alan Ameche, Tom Matte, Mitchell and Dickerson, while tying consecutive marks of Ameche, Mitchell and Dickerson…had receptions in every outing to set club mark with 77 consecutive games with a reception, then the longest NFL streak to open a career since the 1967 inception of the common draft.