<
>

Faith not the issue with Alexander

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Shaun Alexander remains without an NFL job two months after the Seattle Seahawks released him. Alexander views himself as a starter. His career stats agree. The market has so far treated him as a declining player with recent injury problems.

Shannon J. Owens of the Orlando Sentinel took a different view upon catching up with Alexander at a church-sponsored function in Florida. She suggested NFL teams are skeptical about Alexander because the former MVP runner values his faith over football, and because Alexander has developed interests outside the game.

"It's wrong for anyone to question Alexander's motives given what he has accomplished," Owens wrote, "and this one reeks of a personal attack."

This one reeks of life in the NFL. The Seahawks awarded an $11.5 million signing bonus to Alexander as part of the deal he signed in March 2006. They agreed to the deal even though they knew Alexander valued faith over football. They also knew Alexander had developed interests outside the game. Those factors had no impact on the deal. There is no evidence those factors have anything to do with his current employment status.

The Seahawks agreed to the 2006 deal with Alexander because he was coming off five incredibly productive seasons, and the team hoped he would remain productive. When his production fell off dramatically, and Alexander suddenly had problems staying healthy, the Seahawks let him go. That's the way the NFL works.

NFL teams are not going to pay big-time starter money to Alexander now that he is almost 31 years old and coming off two down seasons. Alexander also has questionable appeal as a backup because he doesn't excel on third down and he doesn't play special teams. For those reasons, Alexander could find himself waiting until an injury knocks out a current starter or a team determines its running backs aren't as good.