Sports

Alexander a star on and off the field for Seahawks

It seems like every day you pick up the sports section or turn on the TV, another athlete is being indicted on drug charges, beating up his girlfriend or involved in a scandal of some sort.

That’s just the world we’re living in. More money, more problems — I guess you can say.

What you don’t read about is the good, and necessary, work a select few professional athletes are doing in their communities. Shaun Alexander is one of them.

The Seattle Seahawk running back was in Federal Way Friday morning for the Fifth Annual Literacy Kick-Off Breakfast at Northwest Church. It was the third time he has served as the event’s master of ceremonies.

“It is just great to be here,” the 5-foot-11, 225-pounder told 200-plus people in the audience. “I really enjoy giving back and watching young people grow into successful adults.”

He was in town doing work for the Shaun Alexander Family Foundation, which was established four years ago to immediately give back to those who have impacted his career. Alexander was actually the first player in the history of the National Football League to establish a foundation of this type before he was even drafted out of the University of Alabama.

He has committed his own personal funds and, with the help of endorsements and speaking engagements like Friday morning, continues that personal support and involvement. Therefore, all private donations are used to directly support the work of the foundation and not any administration.

“I just want to keep pushing for our foundation,” Alexander said. “It’s fun to give. You just gotta get used to it.”

With his help, the Federal Way Literacy Kick-Off Breakfast raised over $30,000 for the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce’s Education Foundation, which promotes learning and literacy for children.

Which is why it’s so unbelievable to hear and read some Seahawk fans and media members wanting to trade Alexander. I don’t get it. The News Tribune and others reported last week that Seattle is willing to take trade offers for its running back. That rumor flooded the phone lines on sports radio talk shows for hours on end.

What more do you want? All he’s done on the field in his three years as Seattle’s starting tailback is run for nearly 4,000 yards and score 50 touchdowns in a pass-first offense, while fumbling only eight times. He even scored three touchdowns in last month’s Pro Bowl in Hawaii for the best players in the NFL.

Sure, there’s drawbacks to Alexander’s game. There’s rumors out there that say he’s always felt underappreciated in Seattle. He’s wanted to be a bigger part of the offense than Mike Holmgren’s philosophy allows. He might dance too much in the backfield and run harder when the Hawks get in the red zone, but he’s only 26 years old and still learning how to play the game.

There’s only a handful of running backs in the NFL that have produced more in the last three years — Marshall Faulk, Priest Holmes and Ricky Williams, to name a few.

Production on the field aside, his work off the gridiron should make him untouchable in the Seahawks’ eyes. There wasn’t a person who walked out of the Northwest Church auditorium Friday morning who wasn’t impressed with Alexander’s presence and philanthropy.

“God willing, I will be here next year,” was all Alexander would say about the rampant trade rumors flying around. “I want to continue to do great things in this community.”

Great things that don’t include being indicted on drug charges or beating up his wife. All while playing the game of football at an All-Pro level. It’s a rare combination in professional sports today.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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