Shaun Alexander becomes the 15th to enter the Seahawks Ring of Honor

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Most know of the footballing excellence that made Shaun Alexander one of the greatest Seahawks of all time.

They know he holds the team record for most career rushing yards. They know his franchise records for rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns. If you’re over 20, you remember Alexander’s 2005 NFL Most Valuable Player season. He broke that year for Seahawks records with 1,880 rushing yards, 27 rushing touchdowns and 28 total scores. He, coach Mike Holmgren and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck led Seattle in its first Super Bowl.

“It was amazing,” he says now.

On Sunday, Alexander enters the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor, joining Holmgren and Hasselbeck after their ceremonies last year. Alexander will become the 15th member inducted into the franchise legends group. His ceremony takes place at halftime of the team’s game against the Arizona Cardinals at Lumen Field.

Fewer know the true legacy Alexander left in Seattle.

That’s what he treasures most today, as a 45-year-old father of 12 – twelve (!) – with his wife in suburban Washington, D.C.

“On the court there’s this, with the 12, coming in and out with a win in Seattle, it’s going to be tough,” Alexander said from his DC-area home this week. “So I loved that we changed the culture. Winning, in general… going to the playoffs five years in a row. It created the culture that this is a winning city. It was just unbelievable.

“And then off the court, I was truly blessed to be with Dr. Gregg Alex at the Matt Talbot Center,” Alexander said of the executive program director for Western Washington’s Catholic Community Services. “He had a homeless shelter there near the Space Needle.”

The Matt Talbot Center is a outpatient addiction recovery clinic program which serves people struggling with addictions, homelessness and mental health issues. It’s on Third Avenue in downtown Seattle.

One Saturday while playing for the Seahawks (2000-07), soon after he was league MVP and won a $62 million Seahawks contract, then the richest of all time for an NFL running back, Alexander threw a party for his wife Valerie’s 29th birthday. The place: the Talbot Center.

Valerie attended the University of the Pacific in Seattle. She was looking to help the homeless. She handed them blankets on cold Seattle nights even before the running back married her here in 2002.

“Many moons ago,” said Alexander, smiling over his gray-spotted goatee.

“I brought in some of my famous friends, singers and actors. It was really cool to see my friends feed the homeless and then turn around and eat (themselves).

Alexander was talking to his friends during the party at the shelter, asking them and himself: are all of us here really doing something to help others?

“And a homeless lady walked up to me and said, ‘Man! Can I tell you something, Mr. Alexander? Said the former Seahawk and NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee.

“She said, ‘I was just thinking: does anyone care more about me? And I saw this long line here at the Talbot Center and I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on? They don’t really give out food like this on a Saturday like this. And they said, ‘Yeah, Shaun Alexander is having a party, and he invited us.’ »

The women’s message to Alexander: “Just for today, thank you for making me feel special.”

Almost 20 years later, THAT is Shaun Alexander’s legacy in Seattle.

“Those are the kinds of moments off the court that I got to experience in Seattle that will be etched in my memory forever,” he said.

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Former Seattle running back Shaun Alexander, left, and safety Jordan Babineaux did it before the ceremony celebrating Seahawks Legends. Photo taken in Seattle on Sunday, September 27, 2015. Drew Perine Staff photographer

Shaun Alexander, dad x 12, legendary rusher

Eight of Alexander’s 12 children were born after he finished playing for the Seahawks in 2008. His and Valerie’s dozen range from Heaven, 19, to baby Hope, who turned 1 in August.

He and his wife had a 13th child, Torah, a girl died 70 days after birth in 2017.

“So that’s my 12,” said Alexander, nodding proudly. “So when we got (Hope) we said, ‘He’s our 12th man. “”

Alexander wasn’t too shabby on the pitch either.

He spent five years ripping through defenses that look almost quaint today in NFL pass-a-rama. Holmgren found the University of Alabama record rusher particularly good at short runs.

Holmgren’s attack on the West Coast was known for its short, controlled passing. But it was Alexander’s one-cut runs behind Pro Bowl guard Mack Strong and Seattle’s offensive line with Hall of Famers Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson that turned the Seahawks from decades of mostly average seasons into a Super Bowl team.

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Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck at Super Bowl 40 in Detroit which their Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in February 2006. Associated Press file photo

From 2001 to this 2005 season which ended with Super Bowl 40 in Detroit against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Alexander had consecutive years of precipitation:

  • 1,318 yards with 13 touchdowns
  • 1,175 yards with 16 touchdowns
  • 1,435 yards and 14 scores
  • 1,636 yards and 16 touchdowns
  • 1,880 yards with 27 touchdowns

Not only was he voted league MVP for the 2015 season, he was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He was an All-Pro. He was voted to the Pro Bowl three times during that five-year span.

His franchise career-high 100 rushing touchdowns could last forever, given how injured and spot-used running backs in the NFL are.

Marshawn Lynch is second in Seahawks history in career touchdowns. He was 58.

Lynch had the fastest touchdowns in a Seahawks season since Alexander left the team after the 2007 season. Lynch’s most notable season was his league-leading 14 touchdowns in 2014 – half the total of Alexander from 2005.

Alexander made 370 carries in 2005. Only twice since having a back from Seattle has he even gotten 300 carries: Lynch in 2012 (315) and again in 13 (301).

Alexander said he had a method and an agreement with Holmgren to score all those touchdowns.

“I would say to Coach Holmgren – there would be different packages (training and pass-game) that he wanted to do – and I would say, ‘Hey, once we get inside 20, you’re’ The Big Show” (but) I want you to tell yourself this: I’m not leaving the field,” Alexander said.

He learned that from his mentor when he arrived in Seattle in 2000, former Seahawks running back Ricky Watters. Alexander calls Watters “the biggest big brother in the world”.

“And Mike – as much as Mike liked to be in control,” Alexander said with a smile, “he liked that I took on the character of Ricky Watters by not stepping out of the field, because I wanted the ball.

“And he was like, ‘I’ll give it to you once. And you better do something with it.

As he has with the Seahawks’ entire career, Alexander made something of it.

On and off the field.

“It’s humbling and it’s exciting,” he said of entering the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor on Sunday.

“And it brings back all the good memories of the guys I played with.

“That’s kinda cute.”

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Former Seahawks All-Pro running back Shaun Alexander (right) announced Jarran Reed was one of Seattle’s selections in the 2016 NFL Draft in Chicago with the patient at Children’s Research Hospital St. Jude Andrew Woodruff (left). During the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tenn., Alexander announced the Seahawks’ third-round pick, linebacker Cody Barton, along with Owen, a 13-year-old St. Jude patient who battled leukemia for nine years. Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press The Associated Press

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL editor for The News Tribune. In January 2019, he was named Washington State Sports Journalist of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders drummer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season in 2005. In a past life, he graduated from West Point and served as a Tactical Intelligence Officer in the US Army, he can so ask you to drop it and give it 10.

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