Alexander the great
Published: Friday, January 6, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 6, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
NEW YORK - Shaun Alexander was getting tired of having golfing partner Marshall Faulk remind him who owned an Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award. So Alexander went out and got himself one - in record-breaking style.
Alexander set an NFL mark with 28 touchdowns, led the league in rushing and ran away with the MVP voting Thursday. And with free agency on the horizon, the Seattle running back could parlay his sensational year into unprecedented riches.
"Marsh and I go golfing and he will talk about MVPs and this and that as he drops another putt in," Alexander said. "It is one of those things where I think it is more for the writers and media until after you retire. When you retire, that is when guys seem like they talk about it a little bit more."
Still, Alexander talked plenty about it Thursday after being told he earned 19 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL. He ended the two-year reign of Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, who received 13 votes.
First, he called his wife, Valerie, to tell her the good news. Then, as he sat down before a slew of cameras inside the press room at Seahawks headquarters in Kirkland, Wash., he said: "Oh, man. This is exciting."
"You never know how voting goes, so you can't get caught up in that," he said. "But everyone wants to put themselves in a position where you can say you are one of those top players. And that's how you get to the Super Bowl. And that's how you win 13 games. That was our goal."
Alexander spearheaded the Seahawks' rise to the best record in the NFC, 13-3, including a victory over the league's only 14-2 team, the Colts. It was the most productive season in Seahawks history, one in which Alexander scored 28 touchdowns and rushed for 1,880 yards.
"I think that is a team goal," Alexander said of winning the award. "The way I always looked at MVPs was it was a player that did really, really good on a really, really good team. That is why I am even more excited about this year, because I have put together some great numbers, but we have a great team."
Those great numbers included 11 games rushing for 100 yards or more, topped by 173 against Arizona on Nov. 6. He scored 27 TDs on the ground and one as a receiver to break Priest Holmes' seasonal record by one.
His lowest output was in a Monday night game in Philadelphia, a 42-0 romp in which he played only the first half and had 49 yards in the snow.
Alexander became the only player in NFL history with at least 15 TDs in five straight seasons and the fourth with consecutive 20-touchdown years. He became Seattle's career rushing leader this season.
"He sure deserves it," said Pro Bowl fullback Mack Strong of the six-year veteran out of Alabama. "He's had a very impressive year. In my mind, no one has been more deserving of MVP."
Seattle would like to get used to having Alexander in the backfield. But he could leave in the offseason.
He was designated the Seahawks' franchise player before this season and accepted the team's one-year, $6.323 million offer - with a proviso. The team agreed not to use the same franchise tag on him in 2006.
So either the Seahawks come up with a huge financial package, or the MVP could be scoring touchdowns and gaining all those yards elsewhere next season.
"The actual award - even though it is a great honor, and we are going to try to get Matt (Hasselbeck) or me the award next year again ... if I'm here - you want to put yourself as an MVP-type person. You want an MVP-type running back, and MVP-type quarterback, and MVP-type receiver.
"It is a business," he added. "The Seahawks have to make their own decisions. I am going to be happy ]for whatever they do."
Alexander is the first Seahawk to win the award. He also is the first running back voted MVP since his golfing buddy Faulk in 2000.
"Everyone can take a great deal of pride in having helped Shaun accomplish what he did," Hasselbeck said. "Our coaching staff should be proud. Our players should be proud. Our organization should be proud."
Trailing Manning in the balloting were New England quarterback Tom Brady with 10 votes, New York Giants running back Tiki Barber with six and Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer with two.
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