Shaun Alexander: "Sometimes, unfortunately, I was only compared to myself."
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Shaun Alexander ran his way to national prominence as a member of the Seattle Seahawks so while he's one year and a team removed from his time here, some people around the country are still trying to figure out just what happened.
Well, at least Tom Tolbert is. Tolbert is a former NBA player whose haircut resembled an enraged bobcat while he was in the league. Now, he's a shaved-head radio host with KNBR in the Bay Area and on May 11, Tolbert and Ralph Barbieri interviewed Alexander after he was visiting a group of youth football players in Saratoga.
Alexander was released by Seattle
in after the 2007 season. [First version stated he was released in 2007. He was released after the 2007 season.]
"Sometimes, unfortunately, I was only compared to myself, you know what I mean?" Alexander said. "So it's like, 'Oh, you're not doing the same thing, we're getting rid of you.' So it's like, 'OK, who are you going to bring in to replace [me]?' "
The answer was Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett, and Alexander compares himself to them with those rose-colored glasses that always made Alexander's self-image a little more flowery than reality.
So here's what Alexander said next: "I don't even think they had combined the yards I had with a broken hand, a buckled knee, you know?"
Here's reality: In Alexander's final season in Seattle, he played 13 games, gained 716 yards on 206 carries (3.5) and scored four touchdowns. Last year, Duckett and Jones combined for 870 yards on 220 carries (4.0) and totaled 10 touchdowns.
Here's Alexander again: "At the end of the day, you're like, 'OK, well, if you're comparing me to me, I wasn't the same, but if you compare me to them, you probably would have stuck with me if you would have thought about it.' " And once again, Reality intrudes: The Seahawks appear to believe Jones and Duckett are the twin pistons of a more powerful running game because the biggest change they made to the running game this offseason was to watch Maurice Morris walk on out the door so he can run for Detroit.
Editor's update: After further review, Danny O'Neil decided that the words chosen were unnecessarily sarcastic and an attempt to contrast what Alexander with the facts came across as more critical than necessarily and certainly more condescending than was warranted. He regrets the original choice of words, which have been crossed out in the above paragraphs.
Alexander is not on a roster, but he is not retired, either. He said he is working with new trainers in New Jersey and hopes that something might pan out with Washington, where he played four games last season.
"I think that if a team gave me a shot, I think that they would be so pleased with what they got," Alexander said. "They would feel like they got a ticket to have somebody that could play really, really well for nothing. I think that would shock a lot of people."
Alexander is the only Seahawk ever named MVP. That was in 2005 when he set a single-season league record for touchdowns, a mark since broken by LaDainian Tomlinson. What happened in the next two seasons after Alexander signed a contract before becoming free agency.
The next year, he suffered a broken bone in his foot that sidelined him after the third game of the season. He missed the next six games, came back and played the final seven games.
"In those seven games I had 700 yards rushing, you know what I mean?" Alexander said. "It's not like, 'Well, hey, in those seven games he had around 700 yards rushing, that's a bad season.' Well, no, football has bumps and bruises, you know what I mean."
He did have 709 yards over those final seven games. He carried the Seahawks to a Monday night victory with 201 yards against the Packers. He also gained 140 yards on a Christmas Eve game against the San Diego Chargers in a game in which he ran as hard as I could remember.
The trouble, Alexander said, is that he set the bar too high.
"I think guys on the team, we all said, that I was blessed with a great, great first six years," Alexander said. "The problem was that there were some things I did really well that almost made it look a little too easy that you kind of miss it. So then, what happens is, instead of playing the last seven games and having 700 yards and 10 touchdowns, I just have 700 yards and four touchdowns, and they're like, 'Oh, something's wrong.' "
So there you have it. Alexander looks in the rearview mirror and saw himself as a victim of his own success in Seattle.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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