Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ Ring of Honor a small piece of what makes Shaun Alexander special

SEATTLE — Lost amid last weekend’s Seattle sports equinox was the induction of Shaun Alexander into the Seahawks Ring of Honor, where he became the fourth honoree of the 2005 Super Bowl finalist to be recognized.

“The Seahawks are proud to recognize the incredible impact Shaun had on our organization by making him the 15th member of the Seahawks Ring of Honor,” said Seahawks president Chuck Arnold at the halftime ceremony. “Shaun is the true definition of a champion both on and off the field, and we are excited to formally celebrate him in front of the 12s this season with his induction ceremony.”

But when Alexander first showed up to the Emerald City, fresh off a 1,400-yard, 19 touchdown senior campaign at Alabama, he realized the Seahawks hadn’t yet established a championship culture. The Seahawks, while making the playoffs as a 9-7 team in 1999, were a franchise with only five playoff appearances in its then 24-year history.

“I was trying to build a championship culture here in Seattle,” Shaun Alexander said in an interview with MyNorthwest. “Seattle was always going to be its own little thing. You would have to come into our environment, and it’s going to be hard. We’ve got to be great. This team hadn’t been successful. The records were low and I wanted them all!

“Football is a game of moments,” Alexander continued. “Some are cheering, some are crying, but it’s a moment. I always wanted a lot of moments. And I found out quickly that scoring touchdowns creates moments.”

Alexander certainly created a lot of moments, as his 100 career touchdowns rank tied for No. 8 all-time. Among the legends ahead of him, only Jim Brown (106 career touchdowns) played the same amount of years as him — nine.

“It honestly doesn’t even feel like nine,” Alexander said while chuckling. “I only got about 50 carries my rookie year, and then, after my injury, that really hampered my ability to stay on the field for an entire year. So honestly, it really felt like six-and-a-half years, give or take.”

But one of those seasons amidst his dominant career produced more “moments” than the rest: 2005.

Alexander had a career year in 2005, setting franchise records in attempts (370), yards (1,880), rushing touchdowns (27), and total touchdowns (28) while becoming just one of 20 non-quarterbacks to win the league’s MVP, something that hasn’t happened since 2006.

He was also Seattle’s nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

“My favorite stat of that year, beyond the touchdowns and the records,” Alexander said. “Was that I didn’t even play in seven fourth quarters. Seven! We were up by so much, [Coach] Holmgren would sit me. There were even times I wouldn’t play beyond halftime.”

His 1,880 rushing yards in 2005 ranks 12th all-time for a single season, just 225 yards short of Eric Dickerson’s record from 30 years before.

“If I were able to play those games completely, I would have killed all of the records, Dickerson too,” Alexander said. “But the risk of getting hurt is always a factor, and Holmgren wouldn’t risk it.”

Alexander’s season was capped off with an image of himself as Madden’s cover athlete for Madden 07 (released in Aug. 2006).

This incredible rise to fame could have been too much for certain athletes, but Alexander has cited that his understanding and mastery of the five F’s — fame, family, friends, finances, future — have led him to overcome any personal or career obstacle in his path, like an undersized corner on the wrong end of a Shaun Alexander stiff arm.

The five F’s have become the basis of his current project, the Professional Leadership Program.

“It’s about being the CEO of your own life,” Alexander said. “We don’t tell you what to do. We have the guidance and resources available to help develop an image while staying true to yourself. And I truly believe in mentorship.”

He started the work a decade ago when he recognized many NFL players had difficulties in their personal and financial lives, and now aids leaders, influencers, and others beyond former athletes.

“You know, roughly 70% of pro athletes go broke, and 80% end up divorced or separated or in really toxic relationships,” Alexander said. “Why live like a king for 30 seconds, when you can live like a prince your whole life?”

Alexander has also partnered with the Stand Together Foundation, an organization to help break the cycle of persistent poverty by empowering social entrepreneurs to address its root causes through innovation. Stand Together works with young athletes nationwide to help aid their leadership potential.

“This has been my calling,” Alexander said. “I knew it was something I needed to be a part of.”

Family, one of the five principle F’s, is one of the most important staples in his life, as he is a devoted husband for 20 years and father to 11 children.

“The family part of the program is about accountability and responsibility,” Alexander said. “You know, some of these kids playing college ball, they are facing pro pressure while in school. They got to provide for families back home a lot of the time, or at least feel pressured to. That puts a lot of responsibility and stress on a young person.”

And much like the program, Alexander is not stepping in his kids’ ways when considering playing football.

“Football is an amazing sport that builds character and teaches comradery and leadership,” Alexander said. “It’s a dangerous sport, but if that’s their passion, then it’s their passion. I tell my kids, ‘go be who you’re supposed to be.’ "

This story was originally published by MyNorthwest.