Seattle Seahawks (2000–2007)
Shaun Alexander was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2000 NFL Draft as the nineteenth overall pick.The Seahawks acquired the pick in the draft following a trade that sent wide receiver Joey Galloway to the Dallas Cowboys. In his rookie season, Alexander saw limited action behind starter Ricky Watters, rushing for just 313 yards and two touchdowns.
In Alexander’s second season in the NFL, he became the Seahawks featured running back, following injuries and eventual retirement of Watters. Alexander rushed for 1,318 yards and fourteen touchdowns, only behind Marshall Faulk for total touchdowns. On ESPN Sunday Night Football on November 11, 2001, versus AFC West rival Oakland Raiders at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Alexander rushed for a franchise record 266 yards on thirty-five carries, including an 88-yard run to the endzone. He was named the AFC Player of the week after his performance against the Raiders.
In 2002, he started all 16 games en route to an NFC leading (and franchise record) 16 rushing touchdowns, four of which came in the first half of Seattle’s September 29, 2002 game against the Minnesota Vikings in only the second regular-season game ever at CenturyLink Field. He also caught an 80-yard touchdown pass in the first half. The five touchdowns in that half set an NFL record. This was another ESPN Sunday Night Football game, enhancing Alexander’s reputation for performing phenomenally well in high-profile, prime time nationally televised games.
2003 was another productive year for Alexander. He rushed his way to a career high of 1,435 rushing yards and scored 16 touchdowns. A memorable game was September 21, the Seahawks started their home game against the Rams without Alexander. He was at the hospital watching the birth of his 1st child. He returned to the stadium in the second quarter to spark the offense and help the Seahawks beat the Rams. Seattle also made its first playoff appearance since 2000. Alexander’s success in the 2003 season earned him his first trip to Honolulu for the annual Pro Bowl.
In 2004, Alexander remained one of the key components of Seattle’s offense. He finished second in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,696 and 20 total touchdowns, 16 rushing and 4 receiving earning his 2nd Pro Bowl and Pro Football Writers Association 1st team All Pro.
In 2005 Alexander had his best year in the NFL. Highlights included an 88-yard touchdown run against the Arizona Cardinals on November 6, 2005, and rushing for 165 yards against the St. Louis Rams on November 13, 2005. Also, he had two 4 touchdown games, against Arizona on September 25, 2005, and against the Houston Texans on October 16, 2005. He led the NFL in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, Pro Bowl votes, and points. He broke the franchise record for the most rushing yards in the Seattle Seahawks’ history. On November 13, 2005, scoring 3 touchdowns, Alexander became the first running back in NFL history to record 15 or more touchdowns in five consecutive seasons. On November 20, 2005, in San Francisco, Alexander became the first player in NFL history to score 19 rushing or receiving TDs in only 10 games (Steve Van Buren had 18 in 1945). This feat eventually led to him breaking Priest Holmes record of 27 total touchdowns set in 2003, and his 27 rushing touchdowns also tied Holmes for the most in a single season (the record was again broken a year later by LaDainian Tomlinson). On December 11, 2005, in Seattle’s NFC West-clinching victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Alexander had his 9th 100–yard rushing game of the year, breaking Chris Warren’s franchise record of eight 100–yard games. In the process he also set a more significant NFL record, running for 100 yards against divisional opponents in nine straight games, a record previously held by Walter Payton. On December 18, 2005, in a game against the Tennessee Titans, Alexander passed the 1,600 yard mark for the second consecutive season, had a Seahawks franchise record 10th 100-yard rushing game, and scored his 24th rushing touchdown of the year (as well as the 86th of his career, tying him with Priest Holmes at 12th on the all-time rushing touchdown leader list). Perhaps more substantial is that his 96th career touchdown moved him into an 18th place tie with Randy Moss and Eric Dickerson on the all-time touchdown leader lis] having already bumped Priest Holmes (94 TDs) into 21st. Alexander also became the first Seahawks player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. On January 1, 2006, in a game versus the Green Bay Packers, Alexander set the single season touchdown record at 28, and tied Priest Holmes’s record of 27 rushing touchdowns in a season. Alexander also won his first NFL rushing title with 1,880 rushing yards, which also meant he had led the NFC for the second consecutive year. In 2005, he joined Emmitt Smith, Priest Holmes, and Marshall Faulk as the only running backs to record consecutive seasons of 20 or more touchdowns. Four days later, on January 5, he was awarded with the 2005 NFL MVP Award, becoming the first Seahawk to win the MVP award in franchise history. He beat out New York Giants running back Tiki Barber and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning who had won the award the previous two years. Alexander garnered 19 out of a possible 50 votes. A day after receiving the MVP award, Alexander was named Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year. He received 34 votes of a panel of 50 NFL sportwriters and broadcasters. He was also named the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year. At the ESPY Awards Alexander received two awards, Best Record Breaking Performance and Best NFL Player. In the 2006 Divisional playoff game against the Washington Redskins Alexander suffered a concussion early on and had to watch the rest of the game, a Seahawks win, from the sidelines. However, in the NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers he had 34 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns leading the Seahawks to their first ever Superbowl appearance. Shaun Alexander and the Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL on February 5, 2006. Alexander was, however, the leading rusher of the game with 95 yards. At the end of the season, he was selected to be the cover athlete of Madden NFL 2007. Alexander was the first player to be featured on both the covers of Madden NFL and NCAA Football.
In March 2006, Alexander signed an eight-year, $62 million contract ($15.1 million of which was guaranteed) to remain with the Seattle Seahawks organization, becoming the highest paid running back in NFL history at the time. However, Alexander broke his left foot in the first game of the season. He continued to play on a broken foot through week 3. In that game, Alexander set a team record while scoring his 102nd touchdown of his career, breaking Steve Largent’s record. In a November 27 game on ESPN’s Monday Night Football against the Packers, Alexander carried the ball a team record 40 times for 201 yards in a game that featured snow for the first time at Qwest Field. It was a return to MVP form and yet another prime-time showcase for Alexander, who was still playing with the broken foot. In a December 10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Alexander broke Barry Sanders’s record for most consecutive games with a run of 10 or more yards. Alexander finished the 2006 season with 252 rushing attempts for 896 yards and seven touchdowns in ten games.
In 2007 during Week 1’s game against Tampa Bay, Alexander sustained a fractured left wrist. In week 9, he sprained both his knee and ankle. 2007 was an injured plagued year. Even so, in the final game of the regular season, Alexander was able to become the eighth player in NFL history to score 100 rushing touchdowns. Alexander’s final regular season statistics for 2007 were 716 yards rushing on 207 attempts, a 3.5–yard per carry with four touchdowns in 10 games. He added 14 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown to his rushing totals. April 22, 2008 the Seahawks opted to cut Alexander from the team.
Washington Redskins (2008)
After his release, Alexander visited several teams including the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, and New Orleans Saints. On October 14, 2008, the Washington Redskins signed Alexander to fill the void left when back-up running back Ladell Betts went down with a knee injury. The Redskins released Alexander on November 25, 2008 after Ladell came back from his injury.