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  • Soap Opera In Seattle

    Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    Alexander's last hurrah?
    Seahawks running back likes Seattle, but realizes it might be time to move on

    By Scott M. Johnson
    Herald Writer

    CHENEY - He's been to two Pro Bowls, broken 15 team records and won an NFC rushing crown.

    And yet Shaun Alexander still feels incomplete.

    "I have not had a successful NFL career in my eyes," Alexander said Tuesday night, during the final week of another Seattle Seahawks training camp.

    His lament comes from an elusive playoff victory, the inability to get to a Super Bowl and, to a degree, his failure to completely win over the hometown fans.

    If there were ever a year to do it, this would be the one. Because the way things stand now, Alexander could be in his final season as a Seahawk.

    "The greatest spiritual growth I've had this year is that, even though I love Seattle and my family loves Seattle, that it might be the time for us to go," said Alexander, who is playing under a one-year, $6.323 million contract that stipulates he can't be designated the Seahawks' franchise player in 2006. "So that was kind of hard for me to swallow. It was like, wow, it really might be time for me to leave here."

    In his next breath, Alexander expressed optimism that he'll be signed to a long-term contract. A half hour later, he flip-flopped again.

    "I've told everybody from the beginning that I just plan to have a contract before the (regular) season starts," Alexander said during a 33-minute interview. "If I don't have a contract before the season starts, it's definitely because the Seahawks have a plan for me not to be here."

    Entering the sixth season of an already-impressive NFL career, Alexander continues to be an enigma. As much as fans want to love him, his actions sometimes leave them feeling hesitant.

    He might just have one more year to get everyone back on the bandwagon - if that's even possible.

    "I don't think that I have to win a lot of fans over," Alexander said. "There are always one or two fans that aren't going to like somebody. I'm sure there are still fans (in Boston) that say: 'Tom Brady, why did we draft that guy?'

    "I'm telling you, I was in Boston when one of my friends got married, and you'd be amazed. They'll be like: 'If only we had a guy who could run like Michael Vick ...' It's three Super Bowls. What are you shooting for here?"

    As he embarks on what may well be the final season of his Seahawks career, Alexander is setting his goals characteristically high. He's hoping to eclipse his own franchise records of 1,696 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns from last season and believes that a first-ever NFL rushing title is well within his grasp.

    "He's a guy that shoots for the stars," running backs coach Stump Mitchell said. "And if he can't reach them, he might land on the moon. And he'll be happy with that. He wants to be No. 1, that's his goal."

    Being No. 1 has always driven Alexander, sometimes to the extreme. Despite his outwardly friendly public persona, the Seahawks' 27-year-old running back has an inner passion that sometimes exposes itself in detrimental ways. Such has been the case over the past eight months, when Alexander accused his coaches of sabotaging him, threatened to skip training camp and eventually asked to be traded.

    "At times he can be led by his emotions," said Miami Dolphins fullback Heath Evans, a former Seahawks teammate who remains one of Alexander's closest friends. "Over the last couple years there have been times where ... let's just say I've been able to get to him and extinguish some fires."

    One fire Evans could not put out was Alexander's much-publicized blowup in the 2004 regular season finale, when he told two local reporters that he felt "stabbed in the back" for not getting the ball on the Atlanta 1-yard line when he was one yard shy of the NFL rushing title.

    Evans tried - he stopped his teammate as Alexander walked off the field after Matt Hasselbeck's 1-yard touchdown and tried to console him - but the running back couldn't help himself afterward.

    More than eight months later, Alexander contends that his comments were misconstrued and overblown, but he also admits that it was a mistake to make them.

    Mitchell doesn't apologize for Alexander's January comments, nor did he claim them to have been taken out of context.

    "It wasn't misunderstood by the public because he said what he said," Mitchell said. "Now, he was totally wrong. We were aware of the situation, and we wanted him to get the rushing title. ... I wish I could've gotten to Shaun before that interview, because we were definitely trying to get (the title) for him.

    "It just wasn't meant to be. There are a lot more things we have to accomplish thing year, and that's one of them."

    For a while, it looked as if Alexander might not be in position to chase any goals in 2005. His five-month contract impasse looked as if it would carry well into training camp and possibly threaten his availability for the Sept. 11 regular season opener. Yet Alexander signed his $6.323 million contract tender before the start of camp and eventually reported to the Eastern Washington University practice site.

    "My mindset coming into camp was that we probably weren't going to have him," Hasselbeck said Tuesday. "And then it kind of surprised everyone when both sides did come to an agreement.

    "... I'm actually kind of impressed that he took the route of coming to camp. I was impressed that he came to camp and said, I want to be a part of this team, let's find a way. Most guys in that situation kind of take the easy way out."

    Even Mitchell, who maintains a close relationship with Alexander on and off the field, was taken aback when Alexander signed his tender.

    "I'm always surprised with what Shaun does," Mitchell said. "He's not a guy that, for the most part, is worried about what someone else is doing. He's going to do his own thing."

    Now Alexander professes to have the recent past behind him. Although his contract is slated to expire after the season, Alexander says he's dedicated to the task at hand.

    "What I would like to see would be a great year, the Super Bowl, lots of yards and touchdowns," he said. "In the middle of this, I'd like to see a big contract."

    No matter what has happened in the recent past, or what may happen in the future, some people in the Seahawks' organization believe he's fully dedicated to the franchise.

    "My view of Shaun has not changed," Mitchell said. "I still think he's one of the best backs in the league, and he has the numbers to support that. I'm a Shaun fan."

    There are plenty out there. But there are still some who are waiting for more.

    Like Alexander himself.

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Seattle offense clicks behind running back
    by RamWraith
    By Lori Shontz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Nov. 13 2004

    It isn’t like Seattle running back Shaun Alexander is invisible, exactly. He
    has gained more than 1,000 yards every season since 2001. He went to the Pro
    Bowl last season. Headed into Sunday’s game with the Rams, he is the NFC’s
    leading rusher with 879 yards.

    But no, he’s not the league’s most prominent player, not the guy who’s all over
    television, endorsing products or breaking yet another run on the highlight
    shows. But that’s exactly what Alexander expected after he was drafted by the
    Seahawks in the first round of the 2000 draft.

    "It’s bittersweet both ways," Alexander said. "It would be great to be in a
    city where there’s bright lights and all the commercials, to be with the best
    of the best. And then, there’s times where you’re (thinking), ‘Man, you know
    what? Let’s just go out to the nicest restaurant in town and not be hassled.’"

    Alexander laughed. "I guess for me, the simplest way to take it is I enjoy
    wherever I am, and I’m going to have fun wherever I’m at."

    For the past two weeks, the best place for Alexander has been on the football
    field, as the focal point for the Seahawks’ offense. Seattle broke a three-game
    losing streak on Halloween, when Alexander rushed for 195 yards and a touchdown
    on 32 carries. A week ago, the Seahawks beat San Francisco thanks largely to
    Alexander, who carried 26 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

    Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, however, doesn’t think his team’s recent success
    is due solely to rediscovering Alexander, who rushed for only 77 and 65 yards,
    respectively, in losses to the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.

    "It seems that way, I know it seems that way," Holmgren said. "But really, the
    games unfold the way they unfold. But ... having said that, yeah, I think we
    have a really good running back, and I’m going to hand him the ball as long as
    we’re gaining yards running the ball."

    But as Rams defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson observed, Seattle quarterback Matt
    Hasselbeck was struggling a bit, and it made sense for the Seahawks to balance
    out their offense. "They’re riding on his back, and that’s smart — he’s a heck
    of a player," Jackson said of Alexander. "They’re trying to be balanced, and as
    good as Hasselbeck is, he’s still a young quarterback."

    Holmgren agreed.

    "Yeah, our running game helps the quarterback, there’s no question about that,"
    he said. "The other thing, we considered some things, and we had a volume of
    offense that I think was unmanageable."

    -11-13-2004, 07:03 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Seahawks] Alexander regrets 'stab' comments
    by DJRamFan

    KIRKLAND -- Wearing a "Division Champion" hat, a Shaun Alexander Foundation T-shirt and his ever-present grin, the Seahawks' Pro Bowl running back didn't look, sound or act like someone who had been stabbed in the back.

    But it was his caustic comments rooted in frustration after the team's division-clinching victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday that prompted Alexander to hold a news conference yesterday -- overshadowing what should have been a feel-good day for a team that struggled but still found a way to win the NFC West title.

    Grant M. Haller / P-I
    Shaun Alexander's news conference yesterday attracted some 35 members of the news media to Seahawks headquarters. "It got the best of me and I definitely blurted out stuff I shouldn't have said," he said.
    "I think the biggest thing in the world is how apologetic I am to this whole situation -- how me and going after a record, and my feelings about a record, could even take any excitement, any of the light away from winning a championship," Alexander said.

    That is, however, exactly what has happened after Alexander finished the season with 1,696 rushing yards, one fewer than the New York Jets' Curtis Martin.

    It was Alexander's contention after the game that coach Mike Holmgren calling a quarterback sneak by Matt Hasselbeck from the Atlanta 1-yard line for what proved to be the game-winning score cost him a chance to be the first Seahawk to lead the league in rushing.

    "Are you kidding me? You know the play," Alexander said after the game. "We all know what it was. Stabbed in the back."

    It was the second of his three references to being stabbed in the back in a short, eruptive exchange with only a few reporters before the team's public relations staff stepped in. Alexander later talked to more reporters, but did not repeat the inflammatory phrase.

    "It got the best of me and I definitely blurted out stuff I shouldn't have said," Alexander said yesterday. Of his stabbed in the back analogy, he added, "That was just a little too extreme. That's just an extreme statement."

    He also quashed any thoughts that Holmgren had deliberately called the quarterback sneak to deprive him of the rushing title.

    "He couldn't have done it on purpose," Alexander said. "He's not like that."

    Sources confirmed yesterday that Alexander does not have incentive clauses in the contract he signed as a rookie in 2000 that cost him a bonus for failing to lead the league in rushing. But he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 2, and was asked if Sunday's frustration would be a factor in him signing elsewhere.

    "Everyone knows I...
    -01-05-2005, 05:31 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Seahawks] Alexander rushes to control damage
    by DJRamFan

    You've got to hand it to Shaun Alexander.

    Whether it's carrying the football or extracting a foot from his mouth, the guy is smooth.

    When the Seahawks announced yesterday morning that Alexander would meet with the media at 4 p.m. on a day when there was to be no player availability for us scribblers and babblers, you knew the damage-control machine was in hyperdrive.

    Would Alexander apologize?

    Would he take back what he said?

    Would he say the devil made him do it?

    And if you're still wondering what he uttered to make the local sports-gab radio hosts pull their lingual muscles in unison, welcome back to our solar system. Is Jupiter nice this time of year?

    Alexander, who missed tying for the National Football League rushing title by a measly three feet, told my P-I colleague Clare Farnsworth on Sunday that he felt his coach had betrayed him on the fourth-quarter touchdown play that gave the Seahawks their ultimate margin of victory in a 28-26 thriller against the Atlanta Falcons at Qwest Field.

    The victory also gave the Seahawks the championship of the NFC West and home-field advantage in their playoff game Saturday against the St. Louis Rams.

    I wasn't the only observer surprised when quarterback Matt Hasselbeck kept the ball on second and goal from the one and dove over a pile of Hawks and Falcons into the end zone.

    Never mind the danger of all that bird doo. Hasselbeck has a banged-up elbow in the right arm -- his money arm -- and the way he went into the end zone, on a backward dive with both arms fully extended, would make anyone wince at the prospect of several hundred pounds of Grade A NFL beef coming down on that puny little joint.

    No doubt the element of surprise figured in coach Mike Holmgren's assent to running a quarterback sneak. Normally, Alexander gets the ball in that circumstance nine times out of 10. He scored on an identical second-and-goal situation in the first quarter, and everyone in Qwest Field, including the Falcons, thought he'd get the call again.

    Alexander, who has an ego commensurate with his standing as one of the game's premier running backs, was obviously miffed, for even if he didn't know exactly how close he was to the New York Jets' Curtis Martin in the rushing- yardage race, he certainly knew every yard was precious. After the game, the sullen Seahawk said what was on his mind.

    "We were on the freakin' goal line," he said, "and I got stabbed in the back."

    Now, all of us have said something unfortunate in the heat of the moment and then rued it later on. It doesn't make us bad people, just honest people who need lessons in diplomacy.

    And don't believe any of that claptrap about athletes...
    -01-05-2005, 05:35 PM
  • Nick
    SEAHAWKS - Alexander's future murky
    by Nick
    Alexander’s future murky
    MIKE SANDO; The News Tribune
    Published: July 30th, 2005 12:01 AM

    CHENEY – Will the Seattle Seahawks pursue a long-term contract with running back Shaun Alexander? Do they want him here beyond 2005?
    Team president Tim Ruskell isn’t ready to say.

    “We are going to assess as we go through the season,” Ruskell said Friday from training camp. “I like Shaun and obviously the production speaks for itself.”

    Alexander, 27, set a franchise record with 1,696 yards rushing last season. He is the only player in NFL history to score at least 15 touchdowns in four consecutive seasons.

    The Seahawks recently signed Alexander to a one-year contract. If the sides do not work out a long-term deal this season, Alexander will be free to sign elsewhere.

    “We are going to talk,” Ruskell said. “This was step one, to get him into camp and get the whole team feeling like we have all our tools and are ready to go.”

    Alexander is expected to report to camp in the next few days. His wife gave birth to their second child Thursday.

    Ruskell, hired in February, has yet to watch Alexander up close on a day-to-day basis.

    “I am going to take some time and evaluate that, not just Shaun but obviously the whole team,” Ruskell said. “The fit and the scheme, what we are trying to do, and going into the future.

    “We will talk (about a contract for Alexander) again. I know their people real well and they are going to stay in touch with me and we will just see how that goes. You can’t put a timeline on that.”

    Life without Dilfer

    Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck lost his best friend on the team when Seattle granted Trent Dilfer’s trade request in the offseason.

    “It is strange,” Hasselbeck said. “He screens my phone calls, he doesn’t call me back.

    “I called him recently and told him I hit our local coffee shop and the people that work there were asking about him. He called me right back and said, ‘Did they really ask about me?’ I said, ‘No, I made that up.’ ”

    Dilfer wanted a starting job and the Seahawks obliged by trading him to Cleveland.

    “He is one of those guys that is fun to be around and adds a lot of value to your team,” Hasselbeck said.

    Extra points

    Cornerback Marcus Trufant has switched to the right side because Andre Dyson and Kelly Herndon are more comfortable on the left, coach Mike Holmgren said. The coaching staff will evaluate the change before making it permanent. Dyson and Herndon split time with the No. 1 defense Friday.

    First-round pick Chris Spencer and second-rounder Lofa Tatupu are “very close” to signing, Ruskell said. They missed camp Friday.

    Former University of Washington coach Keith Gilbertson will help Bill Laveroni coach the offensive...
    -07-30-2005, 10:52 AM
  • RamWraith
    Alexander to play? Holmgren has to say so first
    by RamWraith
    By Len Pasquarelli

    Despite claims by tailback Shaun Alexander that the broken bone in his left foot has improved to the point where he might be able play this weekend, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said Wednesday afternoon that he will not risk the long-term health of the NFL's reigning most valuable player.

    "If we still see the crack [on an MRI exam], and I'm pretty sure we will, then we're not going to take any chances," Holmgren said. "Even if he says he feels well, I can't run the risk [of doing further damage to the foot]."

    Citing the power of prayer as a key to the dramatic improvement in his foot, Alexander first suggested earlier Wednesday that he might be able to play in Sunday night's game against the Chicago Bears. The seventh-year veteran was bothered by a bruised foot in the season opener, then experienced further discomfort during Sunday's victory over the New York Giants, and a Monday examination revealed a small, non-displaced fracture.

    Holmgren announced at the time that Alexander would be sidelined for at least a couple of weeks, would not require surgery, and that Maurice Morris would replace him in the starting lineup. The team is also expected to expand its use of four-wide receiver formations during his absence.

    "I don't think [the rehabilitation] will be real lengthy, but it is what it is," Holmgren said on Monday in announcing the injury. "So now, he just has to stay off it and allow it to heal up ... When you lose the MVP for a while, it's a hit."

    Alexander, who walked into Seahawks headquarters Wednesday morning not wearing the plastic boot that was supposed to protect the break in his left foot, would need clearance from the team's medical staff to play Sunday. Even though the star tailback insisted his foot is much improved, Holmgren seemed more than a little dubious during his afternoon news conference. Alexander will undergo a follow-up round of tests, likely including another MRI, later on Wednesday.

    The Seahawks have officially listed Alexander as "doubtful" on the NFL injury report.

    Holmgren said Alexander reported for work on Wednesday "feeling really good" and "kind of frisky as a matter of fact." The coach stressed several times, however, that he does not want to exacerbate the situation by allowing Alexander to return too soon. And he strongly hinted he will rely more on the advice of the team's medical staff than on the desires of his most valuable player.

    If Alexander does sit out on Sunday, it will mark the first game he has missed in his NFL career, after a streak of 99 appearances. He has not missed a start since Sept. 21, 2003, when he arrived late to Qwest Field following the birth of his daughter.

    Alexander, 29, has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each...
    -09-27-2006, 02:30 PM