Marshall Faulk: 'I'll never be over being cheated out of Super Bowl'

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Marshall Faulk: 'I'll never be over being cheated out of Super Bowl'

NEW ORLEANS -- The Super Bowl is back in New Orleans for the first time since February 2002, when the Patriots upset the mighty St. Louis Rams.

On Tuesday, I asked Marshall Faulk if being back in the Superdome this week conjured up any emotions from that day.

"All of my memories about playing the game is all good feelings," Faulk began. "I only remember the Super Bowl I won in Atlanta (after the 1999 season). I couldn't even conjure up the feelings of what I felt after the game (against the Patriots). I'm sure I was heartbroken and maybe a little upset but when you talk Super Bowl, all of my feelings go directly to winning."

People in New England, Faulk was told, believe he still shows bitterness over the loss. And a dislike of the Patriots in his role as an NFL Network commentator.

"They misunderstand," Faulk corrected. "Am I over the loss? Yeah, I'm over the loss. But I'll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl. That's a different story. I can understand losing a Super Bowl, that's fine . . . But how things happened and what took place. Obviously, the commissioner gets to handle things how he wants to handle them but if they wanted us to shut up about what happened, show us the tapes. Don't burn 'em."

Faulk was referring to tapes the Patriots had of opposing coaches sending in defensive signals. It's a story from another epoch, to be sure, but as Faulk spoke, it became obvious the scab is still there. And with just a scratch to the surface, Faulk was soon rolling downhill in accusing the Patriots of having taped the Rams' walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said back in 2008 that he had no evidence that the Patriots -- and video assistant Matt Walsh in particular -- taped the Rams walkthrough.

In April of 2008, Goodell explained his findings and decision to destroy the tapes he'd confiscated.
"The reason I destroyed the tapes is they were totally consistent with what the team told me," Goodell said during his State of the NFL speech at the NFL Owners Meetings. "It was the appropriate thing to do and I think it sent a message. "The actual effectiveness of taping and taking of signals from opponents -- it is something done widely in many sports. I think it probably had limited, if any effect, on the outcome of games. "That doesn't change my perspective on violating rules and the need to be punished."Goodell said there were six tapes, some from 2007 preseason games and the rest from 2006. Another reason he destroyed them was one tape was leaked to the media just after the Patriots-Jets game. "We wanted to take and destroy that information," he said. "They may have collected it within the rules, but we couldn't determine that. So we felt that it should be destroyed."The NFL did present some tapes at the 2008 NFL Owners Meetings that it hadn't destroyed. The tapes showed the Patriots' taping defensive signals, shots of the scoreboard and even 15 seconds of cheerleaders performing.

Still, Faulk says circumstantial evidence from the game leaves him believing the Patriots gathered intel somehow.

"I understand Bill (Belichick) is a great coach," said Faulk. "But No. 13 (Kurt Warner) will tell you. Mike Martz will tell you. We had some plays in the red zone that we hadn't ran. I think we got to fourth down -- we ran three plays that we hadn't ran, that Mike drew up for that game -- Bill's a helluva coach . . . we hadn't ran them the whole year (and the Patriots were ready for them)."

Faulk said the only time those plays were practiced were at the walkthrough.

"I know, in that game, in the red zone, the plays we ran, most of them we hadn't ran most of those plays that year," Faulk noted. "And a couple of plays on third down that we walked through also . . . Any time that I was offset, I was always stationary. And we had creating motioning in the backfield at the same depth on the other side of the field. And they created a check for it. It's just little things like that. It's either the best coaching in the world when you come up with situations that you had never seen before. Or you'd seen it and knew what to do."

At one point in the conversation, Faulk said, "I don't even know why you brought this up now."

In fact, Faulk was the one who broached it.

Faulk attempted to temper his comments, saying, "Bill has done a great job. I love Mr. Kraft and what he's done. They almost drafted me. I remember (Kraft's) vision for that organization. I respect everything about that organization. But am I bitter about how that went? Am I bitter about how the league handled them taping people? If Bountygate was that bad and Sean got suspended for a whole year? If we want to talk about some unfair assessment of how we're assessing things? Man.

"If you lost a game and your brother cheated you," said Faulk, "you'll remember that."

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

Tom E. Curran in the Cumberland Farms lounge joins Sports Tonight to discuss what he thinks it will be like when Roger Goodell attends the Patriots home opener on September 7.

Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

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Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

PHOENIX -- Rex Burkhead was buried on a deep running back depth chart in Cincinnati, but in New England he may finally have a chance to show his offensive value. That's how Burkhead's former running backs coach and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson feels, at least.

Before he was hired as Browns head coach last season, Jackson worked closely with Burkhead for three years and saw the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder's versatile skill set on a daily basis. With the Patriots, under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, Jackson believes Burkhead has a chance to see that skill set maximized. 

"He's very talented," Jackson said during the league meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. "He's a guy that was playing behind some very talented players [with the Bengals], and so he's going to get his opportunity now, and he's going to flourish. He's a really good player. A really good player.

"He's very versatile because he's a good runner, a good pass-catcher. He's a good blocker. He's very bright. He's been a sensational special teams player there so he brings a lot of different elements to that football team."

The Patriots signed Burkhead to a one-year deal earlier this offseason that could pay him more than $3 million -- a sign that they're hoping he'll factor heavily into the offense in 2017. With LeGarrette Blount still on the free-agent market, Burkhead is currently the biggest back on the Patriots roster alongside Dion Lewis, James White and DJ Foster, and he could be in line for a significant amount of work in short-yardage situations and on first and second down.

Burkhead served primarily as a special-teamer during his four-year career in Cincinnati, but in Week 17 of last season, because of injuries to his teammates at the position, he was the Bengals lead back and ran 27 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. We took a closer look at the qualities he put on display that day right here

It was a performance that gave Burkhead's profile a where-did-that-come-from type of boost as he headed toward unrestricted free agency, but his head coach at the time wasn't surprised.

"Not at all. That's why we drafted him," said Bengals sideline boss Marvin Lewis, who went on to explain why Burkhead was an inconsistent offensive contributor leading up to that game.

"A lot of times when Rex got opportunities to play, he wasn't quite 100 percent and so that kind of limited him some. Even in preseason opportunities and so forth like that where you'd go into the game, and it'd be Rex's -- in my mind, Rex's ballgame -- to carry the ball in the first or second quarter and he wasn't able to suit up that day.

"That's one of the things he's battled over his career is just being 100 percent completely healthy. [But] he's just a hard-working guy who always wants to be out there."

And in New England, it looks like he'll have the chance to be out there more.