Shaun Alexander was one of the best running backs in Seattle Seahawks franchise history.
After all, he’s the first running back in NFL history to rack up at least 15 touchdowns in five consecutive seasons.
He also scored an NFL record 27 rushing touchdowns in the 2005 NFL season.
Little wonder Alexander, the league’s eighth all-time rushing leader, won NFL MVP honors that year.
Despite all of Shaun Alexander’s accomplishments, the man nicknamed “Alexander The Great” hasn’t been inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It could only be a matter of time before he finally wears that elusive gold jacket and unveils his bust in Canton.
Shaun Edward Alexander was born to parents Curtis, Jr. and Carol in Florence, KY on August 30, 1977.
Curtis Alexander, Jr. worked for Morton Salt while Carol Alexander worked for the Boone County School District.
Shaun has an older brother Durran. They have seven older half-siblings.
According to The Seattle Times‘ Geoff Baker, Curtis Alexander, Jr. had seven children with three other women.
Their parents divorced when Shaun was eleven years old. He and Durran lived with their mother in a two-bedroom apartment in their hometown.
Shaun Alexander was an honor student, perennial class president, and three-sport star in football, basketball, and track and field at Boone County High School in Florence, KY.
Former Boone County assistant coach Dave Eckstein told Cincinnati.com’s Marc Hardin in 2014 Shaun Alexander was a nice and humble kid during his high school days.
Alexander grew up idolizing fellow running backs Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions and Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys, per Christopher Whitehead of the Seattle Seahawks’ official website.
“My goal was to have more rushing touchdowns than Barry Sanders,” Alexander told Seahawks.com in 2019. “It sounded crazy to people at first, but I was able to finish with one more than he did.”
Alexander said one of the best things that happened during his senior season was playing with his younger cousin and current Boone County Rebels assistant coach Ben Brown, per Hardin.
He solidified his status not only as one of the best prep running backs in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, OH area, but also the nation in 1994.
Alexander had a gaudy 3,166 rushing yards for the Rebels that year – the most number of rushing yardage in Northern Kentucky history, per Hardin.
— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) March 25, 2019
It was quite a step-up from his 2,401 rushing yards in his junior season.
As a senior, Alexander ran for an average of 211 yards per game and 6.94 yards per carry. He also established state records of 50 rushing touchdowns and 54 total touchdowns in 1994.
Alexander’s 326 points that year broke a record that was previously set in 1963.
He also scored seven touchdowns in one game twice: he pulled off the feat against Campbell County in 1993 and then did it again against Lexington Lafayette a year later.
Little wonder he earned the nickname “Alexander The Great” during his heyday at Boone County High School.
ESPN ranked Shaun Alexander the No. 1 prep player in the nation in 1994.
He also piled up several accolades, including Kentucky’s Mr. Football award and All-American status from USA TODAY and Parade Magazine.
At the end of Alexander’s high school football career, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association credited him with 6,662 rushing yards and 110 touchdowns. He scored 96 of those touchdowns in his last two seasons with the Rebels.
Shaun Alexander would continue rewriting the record books as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide in the collegiate ranks.
College Days With The Alabama Crimson Tide
Shaun Alexander’s breakout season with the Boone County Rebels in 1994 catapulted him to elite status in the eyes of many college football recruiters.
Former Rebels assistant coach Rick Thompson told Cincinnati.com in 2014 Alexander’s final three choices were the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Michigan Wolverines, and Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Irish thought Alexander was a lock to play in South Bend because his brother Durran played for the Notre Dame Marching Band.
However, Alexander felt iffy about Notre Dame’s running backs coach, so he backed out.
He then drove in the snow to Ann Arbor, MI to visit the Wolverines but he didn’t like the idea of his parents driving up north and seeing him in cold weather conditions.
Michigan was also officially out of the running.
When Alexander visited the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, AL, he loved the warm weather and decided to commit to their football program.
Alexander accepted a scholarship from head football coach Gene Stallings in 1995. He also redshirted his freshman season.
Alexander enjoyed modest success in his first two years on the college gridiron.
He had a combined 1,004 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in twenty games in his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons in 1996 and 1997.
He gave Crimson Tide fans a taste of what was to come on November 9, 1996.
Tenth-ranked Alabama took on the 11th-ranked LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, LA on that day.
Alexander had 291 rushing yards and four touchdowns on just 20 carries in the Crimson Tide’s 26-0 shutout victory.
He ran for a 72-yard touchdown and a 73-yard score in the rout.
Alabama won ten of thirteen games in Gene Stallings’ final year at the helm in 1996.
The 16th-ranked Crimson Tide beat the 15th-ranked Michigan Wolverines in the 1997 Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day, 17-14.
Unfortunately, Alabama regressed considerably in Mike DuBose’s first year as head football coach in the 1997 NCAA season.
The Crimson Tide won just four games and didn’t play in a bowl game for just the second time in the past thirteen years.
Shaun Alexander was the GOAT. pic.twitter.com/Cu8d7iUwHv
— Bryant-Denny Stadium (@BryantDenny_UA) June 14, 2019
Shaun Alexander stormed out of the gates in his final two seasons in Tuscaloosa. He made his mark on Alabama Crimson Tide football during this two-year stretch.
As a redshirt junior in the 1998 NCAA season, Alexander had 1,178 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 258 receptions. He also added four receiving touchdowns for good measure.
Alexander consequently earned Second-Team All-SEC honors at the conclusion of the 1998 NCAA campaign.
Alabama improved to 7-5 in Shaun Alexander’s redshirt junior season.
Alas, the Crimson Tide lost to the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 1998 Music City Bowl in blowout fashion, 38-7.
Alexander would leave the college football ranks on a high note at the end of his redshirt senior campaign in Tuscaloosa.
His most memorable game that year was 21st-ranked Alabama’s 40-39 overtime upset win against the third-ranked Florida Gators on October 2, 1999.
The Gators simply couldn’t stop Shaun Alexander; he had 200 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns in the win.
“It was one of those games,” Alexander told AL.com in September 2011. “Sometimes you look up and you’ve given all you’ve got, but you remember the end of the game. It was priceless.”
The fifth-ranked Crimson Tide went 10-3 in 1999 and squared off against the eighth-ranked Michigan Wolverines – the team Alexander turned down almost six years before – in the 2000 Orange Bowl.
Michigan won in a squeaker, 35-34.
Shaun Alexander concluded his college football career with 3,565 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns on 727 carries. He also added 798 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in the air.
Alexander set nine school records after he played his final down in Tuscaloosa. Two of those records – most yards in a single game (291) and most rushing touchdowns in a single game (five) – still stand to this very day.
Shaun Alexander and the Georgia Bulldogs’ Herschel Walker are the only two SEC players to score 100 points in two straight seasons.
He earned First-Team All-American and First-Team All-SEC honors at the end of the 1999 NCAA season.
Shaun Alexander would take his act to the Pacific Northwest for his pro football career and become one of the best running backs in Seattle Seahawks history.
Pro Football Career
The Seattle Seahawks made Shaun Alexander the 19th overall selection of the 2000 NFL Draft.
Other big-name stars who were drafted that year include Jamal Lewis, Plaxico Burress, Sebastian Janikowski, and Chad Pennington.
The Seahawks acquired the draft pick they used to select Alexander in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys for wide receiver Joey Galloway on February 12, 2000.
— Shaun Alexander (@shaunalexander) April 30, 2021
Alexander told Whitehead in 2019 his fellow running backs Stump Mitchell, Ricky Watters, and Mack Strong were his biggest inspirations on the field during his rookie year.
In terms of inspirations off the field, Alexander has always looked up to his mother Carol.
Shaun Alexander’s NFL career got off to a slow start.
He played behind Watters in his rookie season and had just 313 yards and two touchdowns on 64 carries.
Seattle won just six games and failed to qualify for the postseason for the eleventh time in the past twelve seasons.
When Watters’ play declined in 2001, Shaun Alexander became Seattle’s go-to running back.
He recorded the first of his five consecutive 1,000-plus yard rushing seasons in 2001.
Alexander scored an NFL record five touchdowns in the first half of Seattle’s 48-23 demolition of the Minnesota Vikings on September 29, 2002.
He scored three of those touchdowns within a span of 1:05 in the first half.
Alexander fell one rushing touchdown short of the record six in a game. Only Ernie Nevers, Dub Jones, Gale Sayers, and most recently Alvin Kamara have scored six rushing touchdowns in a game.
Ironically, Kamara pulled off the feat against the Vikings on Christmas Day 2020.
For his part, Alexander knew he was on the verge of tying the record eighteen years earlier.
“I had it in my mind,” Alexander told The Associated Press (via ESPN) in 2002. “I knew six was the number, but I didn’t know who it was by. We were just trying to move the ball and end our drives in the end zone.”
The Seahawks won a combined sixteen games and continued to miss the postseason from 2001 to 2002.
Seattle was a rejuvenated franchise in the second half of the Mike Holmgren era.
The Seahawks won an average of eleven games from 2003 to 2005.
Shaun Alexander never ran for fewer than 1,435 yards during that stretch – the most glorious of his nine-year NFL career.
Alexander earned three consecutive Pro Bowl nods during that time frame. He also earned Second-Team All-Pro honors at the end of the 2004 NFL season.
The 2005 NFL campaign was one for the ages for Shaun Alexander.
He clinched his first rushing title with 1,880 yards on the season. His 27 rushing touchdowns in a season also tied Priest Holmes for the most in league history.
Shaun Alexander also became the first running back in NFL history to record at least 15 touchdowns in five straight seasons.
Alexander won the Bert Bell Award and earned First-Team All-Pro and NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors at the end of the 2005 NFL campaign.
Shaun Alexander is forever a #Seahawks legend 🐐
The only MVP in franchise history ☔️ pic.twitter.com/TvCzpp0W9r
— Sports ON Tap Seattle 🎙 (@SONTSeattle) October 2, 2021
The sweetest of all was winning the 2005 NFL MVP Award. He became the only player in Seattle Seahawks franchise history to accomplish the gaudy feat.
“It’s just an absolute honor,” he told Seahawks.com in 2019. “I think it’s one of my favorite awards.”
Regrettably, the Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL, 21-10.
Shaun Alexander had 95 yards on 20 carries in the loss.
He has singled out the loss as his biggest career disappointment, per Seahawks.com:
“It would have not to be winning the Super Bowl. I remember our game plan was to come out throwing the ball despite having the best running attack in Seahawks history. It was a great idea because it was successful, but we just couldn’t score any touchdowns.”
Alexander signed an eight-year, $62 million deal with the Seahawks on March 25, 2006. It was the largest contract for a running back in league history at the time.
The departures of offensive linemen Steve Hutchinson and Robbie Tobeck as well as fullback Mack Strong took a massive toll on Alexander’s play in 2006 and beyond.
To compound matters, injuries limited Alexander to a combined 23 games in the 2006 and 2007 NFL campaigns. He had not missed a single game in his first six pro seasons.
After going on a record-setting pace from 2001 to 2005, Shaun Alexander scored just a combined eleven touchdowns in his final three NFL seasons (one with the then-Washington Redskins in 2008).
Shaun Alexander played in his final NFL down after the Redskins released him on November 25, 2008.
He concluded his stellar nine-year NFL career with 9,453 rushing yards and 100 touchdowns on 2,187 carries.
Alexander is the all-time leading rusher in Seattle Seahawks franchise history. He also currently ranks eighth in NFL history in rushing touchdowns.
Alexander is a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and the Seattle Seahawks 35th Anniversary Team. He is also a two-time ESPY Award winner.
A decade after Alexander hung up his cleats, he told Whitehead his favorite parts of gameday were coming out of the tunnel and the crowd erupting after a touchdown.
Alexander’s favorite play was receiving a handoff up the middle, per Seahawks.com:
“I liked getting a handoff up the middle. It didn’t matter which way the play was going, because I was eventually going to cut back. I’m a cutback runner; I liked getting the ball right up the middle because I could go in three different directions: right, left, or straight.”
Aside from the former Qwest Field, Alexander loved playing at the San Francisco 49ers’ Candlestick Park and the Arizona Cardinals’ Cardinals Stadium during his playing days in the NFL.
Alexander also said the best part about living in Seattle was the picturesque view whenever the sun came out in the summer months.
Shaun Alexander and his wife Valerie have eleven children. They currently reside in the Washington, D.C. area.
They reside in a six-bedroom mansion on a one-acre property in a farm town. When Alexander spoke with The Seattle Times in 2014, he mulled over the possibility of moving his family to a bigger residence.
However, the couple eventually demurred. They wanted to make sure the purchase didn’t have any long-term repercussions because not all the money in Shaun’s eight-year, $62 million deal that he signed in 2006 was guaranteed.
— The Athletes' Corner (@AthletesCorner_) January 1, 2020
Shaun and Valerie Alexander homeschool their eleven children. They typically wake them up between 8:00 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. They prepare breakfast, bathe the kids, do household chores, and conduct Bible study in the morning.
The children’s four secular classroom lessons, which last for 45 minutes, start at noon. Some of them take piano lessons in the late afternoon.
Shaun and Valerie then give the kids random Bible assignments before preparing dinner. After eating, the children will do various chores before everyone gets together for family time, which is usually walks around their area or board games.
Alexander currently works as a motivational speaker. He launched the “Finish The Game” podcast in 2016, per FOX Sports’ Sam Gardner.
He told Seahawks.com if he didn’t play professional football, he would’ve been “the CEO of someone’s company.”
Alexander hasn’t fully closed the door on football. However, it wouldn’t be in coaching. He told The Seattle Times he sees himself working in a front-office capacity where he can guide players in various life aspects:
“A natural fit for me would be to put my arms around some of the rookies and even some of the guys who are some of the elite players and make a little more money.”
“I’d try to help them walk through all of it. Not only the league, but the fact that it’s almost over. I’d want to show them how you become healthy when you leave.”
The Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame inducted Alexander in June 2016.
Unfortunately, the Pro Football Hall of Fame snubbed Alexander – a former NFL MVP whose 9,453 career rushing yards ranks higher than Hall of Famers Earl Campbell, Larry Csonka, Jim Taylor, Terrell Davis – in November 2020.
Should Alexander get inducted, he will become the sixth player in Seattle Seahawks franchise history to get a bust in Canton. He will join Steve Largent, Steve Hutchinson, Cortez Kennedy, Walter Jones, and Kenny Easley.
Congratulations to our first two Shaun Alexander Award winners – as they were both drafted this week!! #nfldraft2021
— Shaun Alexander (@shaunalexander) May 2, 2021
As a tribute to Alexander’s tremendous freshman season with the Alabama Crimson Tide, The College Football Freshman of the Year Award was renamed The Shaun Alexander Award in 2019.
Former Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence was the inaugural recipient of the award. Memphis Tigers running back Kenneth Gainwell won the award a year later.
Alexander admitted to Seahawks.com his bad habit is eating copious amounts of candies so he can stay awake whenever he’s tired.
One of his favorite meals to cook is a breakfast scramble consisting of sausage, peppers, and potatoes. He also likes cooking spaghetti.
Alexander told Whitehead he has never learned how to sing, but he would like to give it a try. While he has spoken to thousands of people over the years, he’d like to sing on the big stage someday.