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It’s official. The most prolific runner in Seahawks history has been unceremoniously kicked to the curb. I have spent a fair amount of time criticizing Alexander over the years for being a lamb when I wanted a lion in the backfield. I never reached the point that some fans did, actively disliking him while benefiting from his brilliant results. From the moment he stepped on the field as a short yardage, goal line back in place of Ricky Watters (examine the irony there for a second), Alexander produced.
Part of Alexander’s curse was that nobody could understand why he was so productive. Articles started popping up examining his above average lateral vision, grasping for any explanation for what they were seeing. This confounding of fans and media made it impossible for them to imagine what Alexander might do or forecast his potential. Capturing the imagination of fans is a key part of becoming a fan favorite. People love to buy “player futures” where they see something in a player that allows them to project what they could become or how they may perform against an opponent. That was next to impossible with Alexander. He just ran, and often ran into the endzone. His propensity for visiting that 6-point rectangle was the closest he got to being predictable, and predictably, that was where fans were most in his corner.
People would scream when Holmgren would take him out inside the 20. I never heard people scream when he was pulled elsewhere. In fact, I often heard people calling for him to be pulled.
The most saddening part of this story was how a town could turn so completely on a past hero. He is our only Seahawk MVP. He may be the next Seahawk in the Hall of Fame. He was a significant contributor in the community. And yet, all of that was set aside because he was a soft runner with an aloof, sometimes arrogant, persona. This is not a guy I would have liked to hang out with, but his contributions were undeniable and I appreciate all of them.
I will remember Shaun Alexander as an all-time runner who made the most of what will likely be the best offensive line in Seahawks history. I will remember that his decline coincided with the worst front office move in Seahawks history that yanked a Hall of Fame guard off the line.
The next chapter is sure to be a decline in the running game. It’s well documented on this blog that I don’t think much of Julius Jones, T.J. Duckett or Maurice Morris. Unless we get Jonathan Stewart of Darren McFadden, our running game will no longer be something that can win a game. The top end potential for our backs is not even the Pro Bowl, let alone MVP. Many Seahawks fans will look back in a few years time and wonder how they could have shuttled a player of Alexander’s caliber out of town.