A day in the life of the NFL's best young player can be pretty interesting, especially when it's the heart of the off-season and he goes to have his nails done.
Today Marshall Faulk is driving around San Diego in a three-week-old Range Rover, at $54,000 hardly the most expensive of the 11 cars he has bought in the last two years, and the music on his stereo is so loud and obnoxious that even inanimate objects outside seem to sit up and take note. Light poles quiver; park benches slouch toward the trees. Somebody has made somebody mad, the song seems to be saying, and somebody has got to pay.
It's rap, of course, and it causes the worst sort of headache. Yet Faulk, who is 22 and attuned to the problems of his mad, misanthropic generation, has an expression on his face that is just short of blissful. He knows the words and sings along, his voice a crusty whisper until at last he reaches Mission Gorge Road.
"I like to groom myself pretty nice," Faulk mutters—at least his lips seem to say that—as he turns right into a nondescript shopping center. A jumble of signs decorates the long, narrow building, and one near the center says ACRYLIC NAILS, big and bright.
Faulk enters and takes a seat, plunks one hand down in a basin of water, the other under a ring of incandescent light for somebody named Nina to inspect. "You big football star, yes?" the manicurist asks.
"I play for the Colts," Faulk replies. Then, as if further explanation is necessary: "In Indianapolis."
Nina begins attacking his nails, clippers sounding a musical tattoo. In her eyeglasses Faulk's hand looks twice its normal size, and this frightens and amazes, both at once.
"You make good money, huh?"
Faulk gives a lazy shrug and answers after a time, "I do all right. Enough to survive."
There is no hint of irony in this remark, and no humor. Maybe Faulk has forgotten his particular place in time, not to mention the many fabulous miles he has traveled since the Colts made him the second overall pick in the 1994 draft. Faulk today is a millionaire by virtue of an athletic talent so uncommon that he is often compared with the finest ever to play the game. No longer does he live in the sordid New Orleans housing project that was his home until only about five years ago, a ghetto that ranks among the worst in the country. At the time of Faulk's signing, his contract was the richest ever paid to a rookie in the NFL. It is worth about $17 million, $5.1 million of which was presented to him last year as a signing bonus. He owns homes in Texas, California and Indiana, the last of these a mansion, with some 7,200 square feet of living area, nestled beside a body of water whose name he has yet to learn.