Shaun Alexander

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Alexander on the cover of NCAA Football 2001 video game

Shaun Edward Alexander (born August 30, 1977 in Florence, Kentucky) was a professional football running back. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks 19th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft. He played college football at The University of Alabama.

In the 2005 NFL season, Alexander broke out by setting several records and was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player en route to a Super Bowl XL appearance with the Seahawks. Following several injury-plagued seasons, hindering his productivity, Alexander was released by the Seahawks in April 2008. He played briefly for the Washington Redskins before retiring in November 2008.

Early career

Alexander was born and raised in Florence, Kentucky, a suburb outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1991, he entered Boone County High School. As a freshman, he played football for the junior varsity team and was voted Class President—as he was every year in high school. In his sophomore season, he was made the varsity team as the second-string running back. By mid-season, he was the team's featured running back as he rushed for 1,095 yards and fourteen touchdowns.

During his junior season in 1993, Alexander ran for 2,396 yards and forty–two touchdowns as Boone County made it to the state semifinals. In a game versus Campbell County, Alexander rushed for seven touchdowns. He was listed in "Faces in the Crowd" section of Sports Illustrated in January 1994.

In 1994, in his senior season, Alexander rushed for 3,166 yards and a state record fifty–four touchdowns and was named Kentucky's "Mr. Football". In three varsity seasons, Alexander rushed for 6,657 yards and 110 touchdowns—both of which are Top 10 prep all-time records.

College career

Following graduation from Boone County in 1995, Alexander was heavily recruited by several NCAA Division I-A colleges, including University of Michigan and University of Alabama. In part due to weather differences during visits to Ann Arbor, Michigan which included a blizzard, followed the next week with a visit to the much warmer Tuscaloosa, Alexander eventually accepted a scholarship from Gene Stallings, head coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team. In his freshman season on campus, Alexander was redshirted.

In his first season, as a redshirt freshman, Alexander rushed for a school-record 291 yards and four touchdowns in a 26–0 victory over rivals LSU at Tiger Stadium.

Following his junior season, Alexander decided to return for his senior season rather than leaving early for the NFL. After initially being given Heisman Trophy consideration to start the season, those hopes would fade as the season progressed and ended with a sprained ankle versus Tennessee. Alexander still played a key role in leading the Tide to the SEC Championship in 1999, with his game-winning 25–yard touchdown run against #3-ranked Florida in overtime. In the fourth quarter of the 1999 Iron Bowl versus rivals Auburn, Alexander led a comeback as he scored three rushing touchdowns in the 28–17 victory, finishing the game with 199 total yards.

Alexander set other school records during his college career, including 3,565 career yards and 41 career touchdowns.

Professional career

Seattle Seahawks

2000–2004

Alexander was drafted in the 2000 NFL Draft in the first round as the nineteenth overall pick. The Seahawks acquired the pick in the draft following a trade that sent wide receiver Joey Galloway to the Dallas Cowboys. In his rookie season, Alexander saw limited action behind starter Ricky Watters, rushing for just 313 yards and two touchdowns.

In Alexander's second season in the NFL, he became the Seahawks featured running back, following injuries and eventual retirement of Watters. Alexander rushed for 1,318 yards and fourteen touchdowns, only behind Marshall Faulk for total touchdowns. The offensive line was led by Pro Bowler Walter Jones and rookie Steve Hutchinson. On ESPN Sunday Night Football on November 11, 2001, versus AFC West rivals Oakland Raiders at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Alexander rushed for a franchise record 266 yards on thirty-five carries.

In 2002, he started all 16 games en route to an NFC leading (and franchise record) 16 rushing touchdowns, four of which came in the first half of Seattle's September 29, 2002 game against the Minnesota Vikings in only the second regular-season game ever at Seahawks Stadium (subsequently renamed Qwest Field) in Seattle. He also caught an 80-yard touchdown pass in the first half. The five touchdowns in that half set an NFL record. This was another ESPN Sunday Night Football game, further growing Alexander's reputation for performing phenomenally well in high-profile, prime time nationally televised games.

2003 was another productive year for Alexander. He rushed his way to a career high of 1,435 rushing yards and scored 16 touchdowns. Seattle also made its first playoff appearance since 2000. Alexander's success in the 2003 season earned him his first trip to Honolulu for the annual Pro Bowl.

In 2004, Alexander remained one of the key components of Seattle's offense. He finished second in the NFL in rushing yards (with 1,696) to the New York Jets' Curtis Martin by a single yard. After being passed over for a late game rushing attempt during his team's victory over the Atlanta Falcons, Alexander accused his coach Mike Holmgren of "stabbing him in the back" by denying Alexander an opportunity to win the rushing title. Alexander retracted his comments the following day, and expressed support for his coach.


2005 season

Alexander had a great deal of success in the 2005 season. In the first game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he rushed for 73 yards. Other highlights include an 88-yard touchdown run against the Arizona Cardinals on November 6, 2005, and rushing for 165 yards against the St. Louis Rams on November 13, 2005. Also, he had two 4 touchdown games, against Arizona on September 25, 2005, and against the Houston Texans on October 16, 2005. He led the NFL in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, Pro Bowl votes, and points.

During the 2005 season he broke the franchise record for the most rushing yards in the Seattle Seahawks' history. On November 13, 2005, scoring 3 touchdowns, Alexander became the first running back in NFL history to record 15 or more touchdowns in five consecutive seasons. On November 20, 2005, in San Francisco, Alexander became the first player in NFL history to score 19 rushing or receiving TDs in only 10 games (Steve Van Buren had 18 in 1945). This feat eventually led to him breaking Priest Holmes record of 27 total touchdowns set in 2002, and his 27 rushing touchdowns also tied Holmes for the most in a single season.

On December 11, 2005, in Seattle's NFC West-clinching victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Alexander had his 9th 100–yard rushing game of the year, breaking Chris Warren's franchise record of eight 100–yard games. In the process he also set a more significant NFL record, running for 100 yards against divisional opponents in nine straight games, a record previously held by Walter Payton. On December 18th, 2005, in a game against the Tennessee Titans, Alexander passed the 1,600 yard mark for the second consecutive season, had a Seahawks franchise record 10th 100 yard rushing game, and scored his 24th rushing touchdown of the year (as well as the 86th of his career, tying him with Priest Holmes at 12th on the all-time rushing touchdown leader list).[14] Perhaps more substantial is that his 96th career touchdown moved him into an 18th place tie with Randy Moss and Eric Dickerson on the all-time touchdown leader list[15], having already bumped Priest Holmes (94 TDs) into 21st. Alexander also became the first Seahawks player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

On January 1, 2006, in a game versus the Green Bay Packers, Alexander set the single season touchdown record at 28, and tied Priest Holmes's record of 27 rushing touchdowns in a season. Alexander also won his first NFL rushing title with 1,880 rushing yards. In 2005, he joined Emmitt Smith, Priest Holmes, and Marshall Faulk as the only running backs to record consecutive seasons of 20 or more touchdowns.

Four days later, on January 5, he was awarded with the 2005 NFL MVP Award, becoming the first Seahawk to win the MVP award in franchise history. He beat out New York Giants running back Tiki Barber and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning who had won the award the previous two years. Alexander garnered 19 out of a possible 50 votes. A day after receiving the MVP award, Alexander was named Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year. He received 34 votes of a panel of 50 NFL sportwriters and broadcasters. He was also named the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year. At the ESPY Awards Alexander received two awards, Best Record Breaking Performance and Best NFL Player.

In the 2006 Divisional playoff game against the Washington Redskins Alexander suffered a concussion early on and had to watch the rest of the game, a Seahawks win, from the sidelines. However, in the NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers he had 34 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns, which was easily the best playoff performance of his career.

Shaun Alexander and the Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL on February 5, 2006. Alexander was the leading rusher of the game with 95 yards. Notably, during a crucial drive in the 4th quarter, Alexander was tackled illegally by Steelers linebacker Joey Porter. A conspicuous horse-collar tackle, ABC broadcaster Al Michaels expressed surprise that no penalty was called on Porter by the officials. Alexander suffered a sprained ankle towards the end of the game which kept him from playing in the Pro Bowl the following weekend. At the end of the season, he was selected to be the cover athlete of Madden NFL 2007. To date, Alexander is the only player that has been featured on both the covers of Madden NFL and NCAA Football.


2006 season

In March 2006, Alexander signed an eight-year, $62 million contract to remain with the Seattle Seahawks organization, becoming the highest paid running back in NFL history at the time. However, the Seahawks All-Pro offensive guard Steve Hutchinson several weeks later due to free agency, weaking an offensive line that had been a large part of Alexander's 2005 productivity.

Alexander's success in the previous season led to his being featured on the cover of Madden NFL 07, making him the first player to appear on the covers of both EA Sports football titles—previously appearing on NCAA Football 2001. Alexander broke his left foot in week 3 of the season, effectively continuing the Madden Curse. However, in the same game, Alexander set a team record while scoring his 102nd touchdown of his career, breaking Steve Largent's record. He returned to action on November 19 against the San Francisco 49ers, rushing 17 times for 37 yards. In a November 27 game on ESPN's Monday Night Football against the Packers, Alexander carried the ball a team record 40 times for 201 yards in a game that featured snow for the first time at Qwest Field. It was a return to MVP form and yet another prime-time showcase for Alexander, who was still playing with the broken foot.In a December 10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Alexander broke Barry Sanders's record for most consecutive games with a run of 10 or more yards.

Alexander finished the 2006 season with 252 rushing attempts for 896 yards and seven touchdowns in ten games.


2007 season

The retirement of Pro Bowl center Robbie Tobeck further enfeebled the Seahawks' once-dominant offensive line, further contributing to the diminution of Alexander's productivity.

During Week 1's game against Tampa Bay , Alexander sustained a fractured left wrist. Alexander assured coaches and the press that he would still continue to play. Although Alexander decided to play despite his injury, his performance had taken a noticeable turn for the worse. During Week 5, Alexander's lead blocker, Mack Strong, was injured with a herniated disk in his neck, forcing him to retire; he was replaced by Leonard Weaver. Injuries plagued Alexander again during Week 9, where he twisted both his knee and ankle. In the final game of the regular season, Alexander became the eighth player in NFL history to score 100 rushing touchdowns.

Alexander's final regular season statistics for 2007 were 716 yards rushing on 207 attempts, a 3.5–yard per carry with four touchdowns in 10 games. He added 14 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown to his rushing totals.

Alexander recorded only 20 yards on 9 carries and scored a TD on a one-yard run in Seattle's playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers on January 12, 2008.

Washington Redskins

After being released by the Seahawks on April 22, 2008, Alexander visited several teams including the Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints, and Detroit Lions. Following the visits without any contract offers, Alexander stated that signing with a team was imminent and had no plans to retire soon.

After a visit to the Washington Redskins on October 14, 2008, the team signed Alexander after back-up running back Ladell Betts went down with a knee injury. He was later released from the Redskins on November 25, 2008.

Career statistics

College

Season Games Rushing Receiving
Att Yards Avg TD Long Avg/G Rec Yards Avg TD Long Avg/G
1996 11 77 589 7.6 6 73 53.5 7 53 7.6 0 28 4.8
1997 9 90 415 4.6 3 27 46.1 4 37 9.3 0 22 4.1
1998 10 232 1,046 4.5 12 37 104.6 25 379 15.2 4 43 37.9
1999 11 302 1,383 4.6 19 38 125.7 25 323 12.9 4 51 29.4
Career Total 41 701 3,433 4.9 40 73 83.7 61 792 13.0 8 51 19.3

NFL

Team Season Games Rushing Receiving Fumbles
G S Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Fum Lost
Seattle Seahawks 2000 16 1 64 313 4.9 50 2 5 41 8.2 18 0 2 2
2001 16 12 309 1,318 4.3 88 14 44 343 7.8 28 2 4 4
2002 16 16 295 1,175 4.0 58 16 59 460 7.8 80 2 3 1
2003 16 15 326 1,435 4.4 55 14 42 295 7.0 22 2 4 3
2004 16 16 353 1,696 4.8 44 16 23 170 7.4 24 4 5 3
2005 16 16 370 1,880 5.1 88 27 15 78 5.2 9 1 5 1
2006 10 10 252 896 3.6 33 7 12 48 4.0 14 0 6 3
2007 13 10 207 716 3.5 25 4 14 76 5.4 18 1 2 0
Washington Redskins 2008 4 0 11 24 2.2 8 0 1 9 9.0 9 0 0 0
Career Totals 2,187 9,453 4.3 88 100 215 1,520 7.1 80 12 31 17

Personal

Alexander married Valerie Alexander (née Boyd) in April 2002 after a two-year courtship. Together, the couple have three daughters and two sons: Heaven, Trinity, Eden, Joseph, and Justus. A born-again Christian, Alexander and his wife are very outspoken about their faith and are regular attendees at Federal Way's Christian Faith Center. Firm supporters of abstinence and sexual purity, Shaun and Valerie both were virgins when they married. Alexander has discussed the issue publicly on many occasions, including in his book Touchdown Alexander.

In 2011, Alexander was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

References

  • Shaun Alexander. (2008, December 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:41, December 22, 2008 [1]
  • Segrest, Doug (May 15, 2011) "Winter weather led Alexander to Tide." Birmingham News

External links