Shaun Alexander is one of the best running backs we’ve seen over the past couple decades. Only four that played the position have won NFL MVP since 2000, and Alexander is one of them. The Seattle Seahawks legend racked up 1,958 yards from scrimmage and 28 total touchdowns during the 2005 campaign, winning the MVP voting over the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Alexander’s reign in Seattle lasted eight seasons, and he is still the franchise’s leading rusher with 9,429 yards and 100 rushing touchdowns. He took the Seahawks to new heights, carrying the team to the Super Bowl during his MVP campaign after securing the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC with a 13-3 record. This year, he was inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor.
Alexander’s Seahawks are arguably the biggest surprise of the 2022 NFL season. Despite trading away franchise quarterback Russell Wilson this spring, Pete Carroll and Geno Smith currently sit atop the NFC West halfway through the regular season with a 6-3 record. This week, they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what will be the first NFL game played in Germany. Alexander is in Munich for the event, and he and Buccaneers legend Mike Alstott took some time to visit with U.S. military members, leading them in football drills during the USAA’s Salute to Service NFL Boot Camp this week. The Seahawks legend took part in a Q&A with CBS Sports via phone on Wednesday.
CBS Sports: Tell me a little bit about this USAA Salute to Service NFL Boot Camp that you’re a part of this week.
Alexander: Yeah man it’s quite an honor. You know I’ve got military in my family, and the USAA as the Official NFL Salute to Service partner brought me and Mike Alstott here to help give the military guys here just an experience they’ve never had before. So we are running up through bootcamp, running through NFL combine drills, we are cheering them on and firing them up. Kind of bring the NFL world out here to them and let them know we’re thinking about them in every area.
How has the experience been in Germany? Have you been there before?
I haven’t! It’s been pretty wild. I’m excited for us to not only be here with the troops, but to go eat some food and you know, just seeing all the buildings. You think, Munich is 850 years old! There’s such great history here, so it’s pretty special.
I saw you were inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor recently. What was that experience like?
That was just amazing. To be put in the ring of honor is just kind of saying, ‘We’re going to honor you forever.’ It was the first time I got to bring me and my bride and our family over there. You know we’ve had 12 children. My little ones were like, ‘Wait a minute dad, you’re that guy?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, kinda.’ I was so honored by the Seahawk nation and so this has been wonderful out here to represent the Seahawks and then also be a part of sharing the love with the military.
Your Seahawks are balling right now. Be honest, are you surprised with their success like seemingly all of us, or were you confident in this team despite the Russell Wilson trade?
No, no, I’m surprised, but I also know the culture that I got to help build. When I got to Seattle back in 2000, it was their 25th year and they had only won in the playoffs three times. Then by the time I leave, we had won the division four years in a row, went to the playoffs five years in a row, been to the Super Bowl, and then we all retire and Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, they all come in and they do something very similar except they win the Super Bowl. So it was just really cool to see the culture that we helped start, and that they got to carry on, and now here we are with a new generation — Pete Carroll is still here, and he brings in Geno, a good quarterback, he brings in Kenneth Walker, a great tailback. They make a defense that has a similar attitude and next thing you know, the culture’s setting in, ‘Hey, we are going to win, we’re going to play tough defense and great special teams and we’re going to control the ball and somebody’s going to make a play.’ You know we got two fabulous receivers in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, so it’s all the makings for them to be good, it’s just that no one expected it, not even I!
Tell me a little bit about Kenneth Walker. I think he’s the Offensive Rookie of the Year, from your perspective as a running back, what makes him so good?
You know, I agree with you. Offensive Rookie of the Year. I think it’s his explosion. He has the ability to get small when he needs to get small, but in one or two steps, he’s going at a speed that’s very hard to tackle, and he is very explosive on the inside. So it’s really technical, but it’s like right when one-on-one is about to happen, you’ll see him kick into an explosive gear that is just hard to stop. And he makes a lot of plays, and he loves to score touchdowns. So yeah, I think he’s the rookie of the year, too.
You dominated the NFL during that 2005 MVP season, almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage, 28 touchdowns. What do you remember from that campaign? What fueled you that season?
Well you know it was a lot of things. That was the year that I was franchised (tagged), so I knew that was probably going to be my last year playing with the Seahawks, and I just told them, ‘Hey, I’ll come in if you guys guarantee that I will not be franchised ever again.’ So we knew it was ‘go big’ because this might be it, and it all just came together. The line was amazing, Matt Hasselbeck our quarterback was amazing and we just came in with a great groove. We won 13 games that year. My stats were there, but what was really special was I think I sat out of seven full quarters that year because we were winning by so much. And I just thought, ‘Gosh. If I had just played in those at all, I would have probably easily rushed for 2,000. I might have broke the record!’ It was just a special year.
What did you think of Jeff Saturday being named the interim head coach for the Colts? Would you be interested in an interim position with Seattle if it ever came down to that?
I knew Jeff did some stuff with the team so I wouldn’t know what goes on to make him become the interim. But the head coach is a special, special person that’s gonna pull the team together and get them ready to go play and get the people in the right places. So, the answer is … maybe haha.
But I do love Seattle, and I always want Seattle to get to the spot where they’re winning championships. Kind of like we talked about earlier, part of a head coach’s job is to create good, healthy culture that could go win. So I know I’d be great at that. But for Jeff, I’m saying good for him. I don’t know if he wanted to be interim coaching, but he was always like a consultant for the team and that’s what the team needs.”