Early in his second season in Seattle, Shaun Alexander took over the starting running back job from an injured Ricky Watters, and in his first start, Alexander had a monster performance, rushing for 176 yards and two scores to help lead the Seahawks to a win over Jacksonville.
Seattle's veteran running back was impressed with the youngster, and after the game, Watters told Alexander, "Man, you're about to take over."
"Ricky was such an idol, an icon to me," Alexander said. "Him saying that, I just remember sitting there being like, 'Dude, did he just say what I thought he said?'"
It's hard to imagine that, on that day at Husky Stadium 21 years ago, either player could have known how prophetic Watters' words would prove to be.
Not only did Alexander take over the starting role in Watters' absence, he would go on to take over the Seahawks record book, becoming one of the best running backs of his era and the most productive back in franchise history.
And when the Seahawks host Arizona on October 16, Alexander, who is the only player in team history to earn NFL MVP honors, will become the 15th member of the Seahawks Ring of Honor.
Alexander follows into the Ring of Honor 2021 inductees Matt Hasselbeck, his quarterback for most of his tenure in Seattle, and Mike Holmgren, his head coach for his entire eight-year run with the Seahawks.
The other members of the Ring of Honor are Steve Largent, Jim Zorn, Dave Brown, Pete Gross, Curt Warner, Jacob Green, Kenny Easley, Dave Krieg, Chuck Knox, Cortez Kennedy, Walter Jones and Paul Allen.
"The Seahawks are proud to recognize the incredible impact Shaun had on our organization by making him the 15th member of the Seahawks Ring of Honor," said Seahawks president Chuck Arnold. "Shaun is the true definition of a champion both on and off the field, and we are excited to formally celebrate him in front of the 12s this season with his induction ceremony."
In addition to winning league MVP honors in 2005 while helping lead the Seahawks to the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, Alexander was also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's All-Decade Team for the 2000s, went to three-straight Pro Bowls from 2003-2005, and earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2005 as well as second-team recognition in 2004. Alexander was also the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2005.
After taking over the starting role in 2001, Alexander would go on to rush for more than 1,000 yards for five straight seasons, averaging 1,500.8 rushing yards and 19.6 total touchdowns per season over that five-year span. Alexander set an NFL record with 28 total touchdowns in 2005, though that has sense been broken, and his 1,880 rushing yards in that MVP season remains a franchise record. And by the time his Seahawks career was over, Alexander established the following records that still stand:
- Career Rushing yards: 9,429
- Single season rushing yards: 1,880 (2005)
- Single game rushing yards: 266 (2001 vs. Oakland)
- Career carries: 2,176
- Single season carries: 370 (2005)
- Career total touchdowns: 112
- Single season total touchdowns: 28 (2005)
- Single game touchdowns: 5 (2002 vs. Minnesota)
- 1,000-rushing yard seasons: 2001-2005
- 100-yard games: 37
- Longest run from scrimmage: 88 yards, two times
"It's so exciting and such an honor to just be a part of the Ring of Honor," Alexander said. "When you come to Seattle and you look up in the stadium, you see some of the greats up there in the Ring of Honor. I remember seeing Steve Largent and the highlights of him, and Jim Zorn. And then me being a running back, you see Curt Warner. You're like, 'Dang, I've got to go after their records. This is going to be exciting.' So to be mentioned with those guys, and of course Walt (Walter Jones) and Cortez (Kennedy), who were like big brothers when I first got there, it's really cool, super excited."
Echoing a point made by Hasselbeck a year earlier when he went into the Ring of Honor, Alexander said he's particularly proud to be part of the Holmgren-era of teams that helped put Seahawks football on the map with the most successful run of sustained success, up to that point, in franchise history.
During Alexander's eight seasons in Seattle, the Seahawks went to the postseason five straight times from 2003-2007, winning four division titles along the way, as well as the team's first NFC championship following a 2005 season in which that team set a franchise record for wins in a season with 13.
"Coach Holmgren did a great job just bringing in the right guys to change things, because no one thought of Seattle as playing championship football," Alexander said. "By the time we left, everybody thought, 'Well, even when Seattle's not that good, you're not going to beat them at home.' And it's still happening. You still come to Seattle, and it's a place that it's hard to get a win. To be a part of just changing that whole look of Seahawk football and going to the first Super Bowl, it gives you something to really smile about. I'm really thankful to be a part of it."
Seahawks Legend Shaun Alexander will be inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor on October 16, 2022. Take a look back at the 2005 MVP during his time in Seattle and beyond.