The long runs. The touchdowns. The celebration routines. The smile. The laugh. The records.
Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander will be remembered for all that, and one other thing: winning the NFL Most Valuable Player award.
Alexander led the NFL in rushing this season, and set a league single-season record with 28 touchdowns. He received 19 of 50 votes from a nationwide panel of media who cover the NFL. Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, who won or shared the past two MVP awards, was second, with 13 votes.
New England quarterback Tom Brady received 10 votes, New York Giants running back Tiki Barber six and Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer two.
Alexander credited his coaches and teammates.
"We just feel it's exciting," Alexander said at team headquarters. "All the guys, they all say it just like I want them to say it. That we won the MVP. And we have."
Alexander, 28, is the first Seahawk to be named MVP, an award that began in 1957 when running back Jim Brown won it. Marshall Faulk of the St. Louis Rams was the last running back to win, in 2000, the year he scored a record 26 touchdowns.
That record has since been broken twice, Alexander doing it this year. Alexander gained 1,880 yards to win his first NFL rushing title.
Alexander led the league in points scored with 168. He was named NFC offensive player of the week three times and offensive player of the month for November. On October 23 against Dallas, he passed Chris Warren to become the Seahawks' all-time leading rusher and has 7,817 yards in his six-year career. And his 88-yard run at Arizona on November 6 tied his record for the longest run from scrimmage in team history.
Other milestones in 2005: Alexander became one of only four NFL players to score 20 or more touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. He had two games with four touchdowns in each, and became just the second NFL player to accomplish that in a season.
Alexander became the first NFL player to score 15 or more touchdowns in five straight seasons when he scored three against St. Louis on November 13 at Qwest Field. He is the 16th player in league history to rush for 1,800 or more yards in a season and had 11 100-yard games this season.
"Let's just say Shaun put us on the map up here," fullback Mack Strong said. "The secret's out about the type of team we have out here and the type of players we have out here. You look at his stats and what they mean to the team, and I think they have a lot to do with where we're at.
"Everyone on this team is super excited for Shaun."
Right tackle Sean Locklear said many teams didn't respect Alexander and had the idea that he wasn't a tough runner before they faced him. By the end of the game, however, defenders were saying Alexander was better than they thought.
"I never really thought about whether it could be done or not, because awards are exciting but they're not the end-all, be-all," Alexander said of his honor. "Being 13-3 was a goal for us Those all come with setting the first goal, which is being good."
The immediate future holds the playoffs and a possible charge to the Super Bowl. After that, the questions will surface about whether the Seahawks will sign Alexander to the long-term contract he wants.
Alexander played this season with a one-year, US$6.32 million deal that expires in early March, and he can become a free agent if he is not re-signed.
The MVP could be quite a bargaining chip for Alexander in his agents' negotiations with the Seahawks, which have been suspended by mutual agreement until the end of the season.
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren expressed his happiness for his star running back.
"I'm as tough on him as anyone I've ever coached," Holmgren said. "He listened and he tried. That makes me feel good, because he's gotten better."
Alexander said, "It's an honor any time I get mentioned with those guys. Brady's been to three Super Bowls. Peyton has just changed the game for quarterbacks. Tiki's like my cousin. You watch these guys and you're just excited about the stuff they do for football. Overall, it's really our team. Our team, we've done stuff that Seattle's never seen before. And we're not done."