If Terrell Davis Is A Hall Of Famer, Why Not Shaun Alexander? Marshawn Lynch?

I was going to get to this earlier in the week, but work happened.  And, I didn’t want to half-ass this one.  And since there weren’t any other things I COULD half-ass, you get the 2-day gap in posts.

So, apropos of absolutely nothing whatsoever, the name Jamal Lewis popped into my brain, and I got it into my head that he had a crazy amount of rushing yards for a running back to NOT be in the NFL Hall of Fame.  As it turns out, he’s currently only 24th on the list, with 10,607 yards, and there are PLENTY of backs with 10,000+ yards who aren’t in the Hall and quite frankly don’t belong there.  As I look at Jamal’s numbers now, even though he’s one of a VERY small few to have a 2,000-yard season, it’s not a total shocker to see him not in there yet.  He does have seven 1,000 yard seasons in total, but only the one Pro Bowl/All Pro year.  I’ll let some Ravens fan make the case for Jamal Lewis; this is a Seattle-centric blog for Christ’s sake.  I’m here to talk about Shaun Alexander, and yeah, Marshawn Lynch, relative to the recently-inducted Terrell Davis.

So, when I looked at the list of the running backs with the most yards in NFL history – to check and see where Jamal Lewis stood – I went ahead and dug around to see where Terrell Davis landed.  Knowing nothing, aside from the fact that his career was relatively short compared to most running backs you consider to be Hall of Famers, I figured going in that he was sub-10,000 yards.  But, I figured he’d be in the 9,000 range.

NO!  Not even!  Try 7,607!

He’s 55th all time.  The only other Hall of Famers in his range or lower are the REAL old timers.  Like, before the Super Bowl was a thing.  Like, before the AFL and the NFL merged into a single league.

Now, for what it’s worth, I do think Terrell Davis belongs in the Hall of Fame.  But, you know, I’m more of an Eye Test guy.  When I say the name Terrell Davis, I think, “Yeah, that guy was one of the all-time greats.”  But, when you see 7,607 staring you back in the face, it’s enough to give you pause.  It gave me pause anyway!

I’ve always maintained that Shaun Alexander was and is a fringe Hall of Famer, but ultimately if you twisted my arm, I’d say probably not.  But, with 7,607 here to consider, I mean, come on!

Shaun Alexander finished with 9,453 yards (Lynch with a little less, so I’ll get to him later in the post).  If you discount his 4 games with the Redskins in the final year of his career, he spent 8 full seasons in Seattle.  Davis did what he did in 7 seasons in Denver, so the career lengths are comparable.  Alexander finished with exactly 100 rushing touchdowns and another 12 receiving TDs; Davis finished with 60 rushing and 5 receiving.  Alexander averaged 4.3 yards per attempt, Davis at 4.6, so not a HUGE difference there.  And, if you go by Approximate Value per Pro Football Reference (the higher the number the better), Alexander finished with a 79, Davis with a 78.

I mean, when you put it all down there like that, and you factor in the extra 1,846 career rushing yards and the extra 47 combined touchdowns, how is Shaun Alexander not even in the conversation and Terrell Davis is already in?

Politics aside – because I will say this:  it IS a popularity contest, no matter what you hear from anyone; if the voters don’t like you (*cough* Terrell Owens *cough*), you’re screwed – it’s kind of insane.  But, one thing we were told is that Terrell Davis’ induction is a referendum on the production he had in his Peak Years.  I think, going forward, for a lot of these players on offense – as the numbers skyrocket, as rules changes make the game more high scoring – unless you have just insane career totals, you’re going to need to build your case in your Peak Years, when you were at your very best.  How many Peak Years did you have, and how dominant were you in those years?

Terrell Davis was drafted in 1995.  He had a pretty good rookie year, but his very best years were 1996-1998.  From 1999-2001, he played in a grand total of 17 games and was out of football after that.  So, really, we’re talking about a 3-year span, but since he ended up in the top 10 in rushing in his rookie year, we’ll include that to give him a 4-year Peak.

  • In 1995, he ran for 1,117 yards and 7 TDs, good for 9th in yards and outside the top 10 in TDs.
  • In 1996, he ran for 1,538 yards and 13 TDs, good for 2nd in yards (behind Barry Sanders) and tied for 3rd in TDs with Ricky Watters, behind Curtis Martin’s 14 and Terry Allen’s 21.
  • In 1997, he ran for 1,750 yards and 15 TDs, good for 2nd in yards (behind Barry Sanders’ 2,000 yard season) and tied for 1st in TDs with Karim Abdul-Jabbar.
  • In 1998, he ran for 2,008 yards and 21 TDs, good for 1st in yards and TDs.

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl and first team All Pro three times, 1996-1998.  He won the NFL’s MVP award in 1998.  He led the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, winning the Super Bowl MVP the first time and ceding it to John Elway the second time.  He was placed on the 2nd team All-1990s team to boot.

So, that’s the resume, more or less.  How does that compare to Shaun Alexander’s Peak Years?  Well, he didn’t start as a rookie in 2000, which was understandable at the time – we still had a prime Ricky Watters giving us his all – but will likely go down as the reason why Alexander ultimately doesn’t make the Hall.  If he were to hang another 1,000 yard season on his career totals, with another 10 or so TDs, I don’t see how you could keep him out.  Regardless, I’m giving Alexander a total of 5 Peak Years, from 2001-2005.  He topped 1,000 yards each year and had no less than 14 rushing TDs in each of those years!  To wit:

  • In 2001, he ran for 1,318 yards and 14 TDs, good for 6th in yards and 1st in TDs.
  • In 2002, he ran for 1,175 yards and 16 TDs, outside the top 10 in yards, but tied for 2nd with Ricky Williams in TDs (behind Priest Holmes).
  • In 2003, he ran for 1,435 yards and 14 TDs, good for 8th in yards and tied for 3rd in TDs with Clinton Portis & the aforementioned Jamal Lewis, behind Ahman Green and Priest Holmes again.
  • In 2004, he ran for 1,696 yards and 16 TDs, good for 2nd (by ONE YARD behind Curtis Martin) in yards and 2nd in TDs behind LaDainian Tomlinson.
  • In 2005, he ran for 1,880 yards and 27 TDs, good for 1st in yards and tying a then-NFL record for TDs in a season (to be broken by LDT the very next year with 28, who holds it to this day).

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl three times (2003-2005), made first team All Pro one time, in 2005.  He won the NFL’s MVP award in 2005.  He led the Seahawks to just one Super Bowl appearance in the 2005 season (he likely would’ve been the Super Bowl MVP had the refs not screwed us over, but that’s neither here nor there).  And, he was placed on the 2nd team All-2000s team.

I guess, what you have to ask yourself is, what do you take more stock in?  Shaun Alexander had a longer Peak, and arguably a better one.  I mean, those touchdown totals are INSANE for a 5-year run!  Terrell Davis didn’t set or tie any single-season marks!  So, do you rank that higher, or do you rank Davis’ Super Bowl success higher?

You gotta admit, it’s a helluva story.  Terrell Davis helps the long-suffering John Elway get his only two Super Bowl titles as he rides off into the sunset.  While Shaun Alexander led an okay Seahawks reign in the mid-2000s, that only got to the lone Super Bowl, and lost it in frustrating fashion.

You might sit here and argue that Shaun Alexander had a couple of Hall of Famers in Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson to run behind, but Terrell Davis had a very good O-Line in his own right.  On top of that, let’s face it, the zone blocking scheme Denver was running back then was relatively new, and the NFL hadn’t really adapted to defending it.  Which is why you saw so many Denver running backs in those days plucked from the bottom of the draft and making huge impacts.  I’d put all of that as a wash, or even a little in Davis’ favor.

Where I think Shaun Alexander might have some trouble is that he spent most of his career in LDT’s shadow.  Sure, there were good running backs playing when Terrell Davis had his reign, but I don’t think there were as many as when Shaun Alexander was doing his thing.  The running back position as a whole really exploded in the early-to-mid 2000s.  I mean, shit, with Davis’ induction, now we’re talking about Priest Fucking Holmes having an argument to be included!  The guy only had 3 good years and was injured the rest of the time for fuck’s sake!

It’s a shame, too, because Shaun Alexander came up in the era where Fantasy Football really exploded.  If that has any effect whatsoever, then you have to remember that Shaun Alexander was ALWAYS a top 2 pick in any fantasy draft, with LDT.  The game of football, at its purest, is about scoring touchdowns and preventing the other team from scoring touchdowns.  There weren’t many running backs in the history of the league who had a nose for scoring touchdowns the way Shaun Alexander did.  In fact, looking at the leaderboard, Alexander is tied for 7th with Marshall Faulk for his 100 touchdowns.  He only falls to 13th in combined rushing & receiving TDs as well.  Davis is 48th & 120th respectively.

I dunno!  Maybe I’m a homer.  Or, maybe I’m a fucking purist and Shaun Alexander deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame!

Now, regarding Marshawn Lynch, I think he has an even-tougher road to hoe than Alexander in a lot of ways.  He has 6 seasons where he surpassed 1,000 yards rushing, his first two with Buffalo and his first four full years with Seattle.  He racked up a career total of 9,112 yards (37th all time) and 74 rushing touchdowns (24th all time), with another 9 receiving TDs.  I won’t discount his first two years in Buffalo, but I’d have to say his Peak Years were the first four full ones with Seattle, so let’s run them down now:

  • In 2011, he ran for 1,204 yards and 12 TDs, good for 7th in yards and tied for 3rd in TDs with AP and Ray Rice, behind Cam Newton and Shady McCoy.
  • In 2012, he ran for 1,590 yards and 11 TDs, good for 3rd in yards and tied for 5th in TDs with Doug Martin and Trent Richardson.
  • In 2013, he ran for 1,257 yards and 12 TDs, good for 6th in yards and tied for 1st in TDs with Jamaal Charles.
  • In 2014, he ran for 1,306 yards and 13 TDs, good for 4th in yards and tied for 1st in TDs with DeMarco Murray.

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl five times (2008, 2011-2014) and the first team All Pro once, in 2012.  No MVPs, but he led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning one, and should have won them both.  He was also stripped of a Super Bowl MVP award opportunity by not being handed the ball at the 1-yard line against the Patriots, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, obviously, the numbers aren’t really there for Lynch, compared to Alexander.  But, as I said before, it’s always so much more than just numbers.  Now, I’m not sure Beastmode is going to win many popularity contests, with the way he shunned the media in his later years – particularly in those two Super Bowl seasons – but I also feel like time will heal those wounds somewhat.  I guess it just depends on how many Hall of Fame voters were also those media people who were all bent out of shape about his antics.  I could see that going either way, but it’s hard to see that as a deal-breaker.

What’s very much in Beastmode’s favor is the fact that he was a motherfucking BEAST!  He had, without question, the greatest run in the history of the NFL, PERIOD!  And, if you search for a reel of highlights, I mean, he’s amazing.  For me, he’s on a short-list with guys like Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Jim Brown and maybe that’s it, of guys I just love to watch run with the football.  Guys who could do ANYTHING with the football!  With that mystique behind him?  Compared to Shaun Alexander, who has this reputation for being a bit soft (which I don’t think is totally fair, but it’s out there), I dunno.  I think that pulls Marshawn Lynch up even with Alexander, when you factor in total numbers plus the popularity contest element.

Then, take a look at playoff numbers.  Because I think this is obviously where Terrell Davis got over the hump, with the two Super Bowls and all that.  Davis is 6th all time in playoff yards with 1,140.  Each of the top 7 guys on this list (and 8 of the top 9) are in the Hall of Fame.  Ready for a shocker?  Marshawn Lynch is 8th on this list (and hence the only one of the top 9 not in the Hall) with 937 yards.  That, I think, is going to be a huge feather in his cap, if and when Lynch ever gets his day in the sun.

So, where do you look next?  I’ll tell you:  the era.  Shaun Alexander played in the last era of the great running backs.  Once he hung ’em up, and teams started realizing you could find quality running backs later in the draft, and pair them in these shared backfields teams have gone to, to mitigate injury risk and running back paydays, you just don’t see as many workhorses as you used to.  In that sense, Marshawn Lynch has a leg up, because he was a rare breed in that regard.  A workhorse and right up there at the top for his 4-year Peak run with Adrian Peterson and that’s about it.

At this point, once we start passing by the Hall of Famers in the first decade of the 2000s and get into the 2010s, you have to shift your expectations for what a Hall of Fame running back looks like.  You can’t just STOP putting running backs in the Hall of Fame, because their numbers aren’t like the video game numbers of the 1990s and early 2000s!

So, I could see a legitimate situation where Shaun Alexander never gets in (which would be a crime) and Marshawn Lynch does get in (which would be well-deserved).

I just hope the media guy who advocates for those two puts up a good fight, because I now think both are VERY deserving, especially if Terrell Davis is already in there.

The 2013 Seattle Seahawks Drafted 11 All Pros

OK, I’ll bite.  Or rather suck.  The dicks.  Of the Seahawks executives in charge of this wonderful marvel of a team.  The following 11 draft picks are going to be just the depth, special teamers, and future starters we need to continue being the greatest team in the history of the National Football League.  19-0 is on the table.  Hell, why not 38-0?

57-0?

Unbridled enthusiasm aside, I don’t know how these draft picks are going to turn out, you don’t know how these draft picks are going to turn out, so let’s cut the shit.  There are any number of ways the careers of these 11 guys can go.  At the very bottom of the spectrum, they can be terrible busts and cut before we play meaningful games.  They could be terrible, but raw and/or coachable, showing something that the coaches think might be built up while playing on the practice squad.  They could be decent, but subjected to a numbers game, tried to pass through to the practice squad only to be snatched up by another team.  They could be good, make the 53-man roster, but spend the bulk of the regular season games on the Inactive List.  They could be good, make the 53-man roster, and play on special teams.  They could be good, play on special teams, and play occasionally on offense and/or defense.  They could play regularly on offense and/or defense.  Or, they could start.

Those are just some of the plethora of options.  So, I’ll give my semi-informed thoughts, which are based on the semi-informed thoughts of others (because obviously I’ve never seen any of these people play in real life).

Second Round – Christine Michael, RB

You think this guy hated substitute teachers growing up, butchering his name while taking attendance?  You think he was picked on just a LITTLE bit?  Right off the bat, you gotta like the Boy Named Sue potential of this kid.

Kill me, I like this pick.  I feel like, at this point, if you’re not saying, “What the fuck are they thinking?” when talking about the Seahawks and their first pick of the draft, then they’re not doing their jobs.  Did we NEED to make this pick?  Hell no!  I’ve got it in my head that we’ve easily got two more good years out of Marshawn Lynch, then we’ve got Turbin in the wings ready to take his place.  We could’ve held out, just drafted a run-of-the-mill running back in the later rounds, and had our running game of the future by way of far less premium draft slots.

But, this kid sounds like the real deal Holyfield.  Which leads me to wonder a couple things:

  1. How much longer does Lynch have with this team?
  2. How much does the team like Turbin?

Marshawn Lynch has carried the ball 600 times the past two years.  In his tenure with the Seahawks, he has played behind some dreadful lines.  Granted, for the last season and a half, they picked up their games, but he has taken QUITE the beating.  And that’s on top of the fact that he self-inflicts a lot of his beatings by being a bad-ass motherfucker who won’t take Go Out-of-Bounds for an answer.  He’s also been suffering from back spasms & other back-related issues (it’s difficult carrying a whole entire offense at one time) which leads me to wonder if this team isn’t worried about his durability for the next two seasons.

When running backs hit a wall, they hit it hard and they never come back the same.  Lynch is so tough, he could probably play through it and extend his career an extra five years like a Thomas Jones or a Curtis Martin.  Then again, it’s not like those guys were All Pros in their waning years.  Do you really want to risk being stuck with Turbin starting and some fifth rounder backing him up?

Which leads us into my other question:  do you even want Turbin starting at all?

It’s valid to ask.  Yeah, he averaged 4.4 yards per carry last year, but that was on limited duty.  Limited duty in between poundings with Marshawn Lynch Beastmoding the hell out of a defense.  Do we think Turbin can average 4.4 yards per carry over 300 carries in a season (as opposed to just the 80 carries he had as a rookie)?

Sight unseen, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’d trust the second round pick with a first round valuation (Christine Michael) over the fourth round pick from a non-BCS school (Guns Turbin).  I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Michael as your change-of-pace, give-Beastmode-a-break back, while we see Turbin in that third down, pass-catching, 2-minute offense role we all assumed would naturally go to Leon Washington more often last season.

Third Round – Jordan Hill, DT

Of all the guys drafted, I think this is the guy with the best odds to get immediate playing time.  He most likely won’t start, but he COULD.  He will have a place in this defensive line’s rotation because he’s big, he’s athletic, and he can rush the passer from the interior.  If Michael Bennett doesn’t re-sign with us after this season, we could be safe knowing that Hill will be able to take his spot.

Fourth Round – Chris Harper, WR

Fairly tall (6’1), fairly big (231 pounds), decent speed, great strength.  If he puts in the work, he could be the next Michael Irvin.  Or, you know, he could be nothing special.

Wide receiver is one of the hardest positions to predict.  Really, it comes down to:  Either He’s Got It Or He Doesn’t.  You can’t know until you see it in a game.  Even practice can be deceiving.  What makes an undrafted guy like Doug Baldwin a major player in a team’s offense while a fourth round draft pick in Kris Durham a total and complete washout?  Either you have it or you don’t.

I, for one, really REALLY hope that he does.  It would make things going into 2014 a whole lot easier.  If we hit with Harper, then we can lose either Tate or Rice and not miss much of a beat.  It’s going to be crucial to start replacing some of these over-priced guys like Rice with quality young players making their rookie wages so we can pay for the studs like Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas (saying nothing of Russell Wilson who will be many arms and legs worth of salary).  So, let’s all root super hard on Harper being that replacement.  It helps that he has a good “wide receiver name”.  Doesn’t “Chris Harper” sound like a 10-year veteran with a handful of Pro Bowls under his belt?

Fifth Round – Jesse Williams, DT

It would be just like me to sit here and believe a fifth round wide-body from Australia is going to be the best player in this draft class.  Here’s my hunch, and pray to whatever god you choose that I’m wrong:  he WILL be the best and most-talented player in our draft class; but he’s also going to suffer from injury after injury and be out of the league in three years.

I’m not even saying that because he has the knee issue that caused his draft stock to fall all the way from a possible late-first round pick to the fifth round.  It’s just a feeling that I have.  And if it’s true, it would be SO a Seattle thing to have happen.

You gotta like what you read about the kid, though.  320 pounds, 6’4, and by all accounts – since he’s relatively new to this whole American Football thing – he has only gotten better and should CONTINUE to get better.

He can bench 600 pounds!  That’s, like, TWO offensive linemen!  If he’s able to reach his potential, we’re talking about not just a starter, not just an All Pro, but a Hall of Famer.  He could be that good.  I just hope his body holds out.

Fifth Round – Tharold Simon, CB

He’s in that mold.  6’2, long arms, big hands, athletic.  They’re talking about him being the replacement for Brandon Browner when we let him go in free agency because we can’t afford to pay EVERY defensive back on our team top dollar.

For the record, I don’t give a shit about his recent arrest.  I don’t give a shit about ANYONE’S arrests, recent or otherwise.  Boys will be boys and all that.  But, I refuse to believe that he fell to the fifth round based on a bogus arrest.  If you’re telling me the NFL is a copy-cat league, and that everyone is looking for the next Sherman/Browner duo in their cornerbacks, then why would a guy with length and speed and all that fall to the fifth round?  I’m sorry, there’s got to be more we’re either not seeing or not hearing about (because it’s ever-so-much-more-juicy to hear about someone being arrested).

Hopefully I’m wrong.  Obviously, the Seahawks aren’t going to hit on all of these guys, but if Simon turns out to be the heir apparent to Richard Sherman, then John Schneider really is a witch and he should probably be burned at the stake before he turns us all into his slaves.

Fifth Round – Luke Willson, TE

OK, honestly?  I’m calling bullshit on this one.  There is NO FUCKING WAY that a backup tight end out of Rice who caught 9 balls as a senior is going to make any sort of positive impact in the NFL.  No way.  Huh uh.  Sorry.

6’5, 251 pounds?  Don’t care.  Ran a 4.46 40-yard dash?  So what.  38-inch vertical?  Hnnn, stop it!  Stop it, I refuse to believe that this guy is going to be the next Aaron Hernandez!  There’s got to be something about this guy!  Stone hands, an inability to block, an inability to run proper routes, an inability to get open (but, if he’s so tall and can jump so high, couldn’t you put 11 guys on him and just let him catch the ball at its highest point?)

NOOOOOOOOOO!  I’m running away from this guy as fast as I can, no matter how much I want to believe he’s going to be the second coming of Christ.  No one who spells Wilson with two L’s can be counted on to make it in the NFL (how do you like THAT for hard-hitting analysis?)

Sixth Round – Spencer Ware, RB/FB

This pick just makes me sad more than anything.  I find it hard to root against a Seahawk succeeding, but I’m reading about the team using this guy almost exclusively at fullback.  And, not for nothing, but no NFL team in its right mind would ever keep two fullbacks on the roster.

And, gosh darn it, I like me some Michael Robinson!  I don’t want to see him as a cap casualty!  I want to see him win a ring with us, THEN be let go in favor of a younger, cheaper option because we have no choice.

How about this, okay?  Go with me on it:  Spencer Ware looks great in Training Camp and in the preseason.  Then, right before final cuts, he goes down with a season-ending injury.  He’ll have surgery, make a full recovery, and be better than ever NEXT year when we need him to start for us at fullback.  Kay?  Kay.

Seventh Round – Ryan Seymour, OL

OK, we can PROBABLY stop worrying about these guys making the team over beloved current Seahawks.  Seventh round is where I really start drawing the line at giving a damn.  Figure this guy probably makes the practice squad and gives things a run going into 2014.

Seventh Round – Ty Powell, OLB/DE

Small school, fast kid, could play multiple positions from linebacker to LEO defensive end.  Considering what this team has done to improve the pass rush thus far this offseason, he’s going to have to make a Herculean effort just to get noticed.  If he makes this team, either something went very well (he’s a sleeper stud) or something went very wrong (a bus crashed into half of our defensive line).

Seventh Round – Jared Smith, G

Oh boy, another pet project for Tom Cable, who thinks he can make every under-sized, useless defensive tackle into a starting offensive guard.  Forgive me if I don’t die from a 96-hour boner.

Seventh Round – Michael Bowie, OL

You know when you’re selecting teams for a pick-up game of some kind?  Basketball, football, soccer, whathaveyou.  And there’s a guy who is obviously head-and-shoulders better than everyone else on the field who is picking for one of the teams.  AND, he makes it a point to pick as many scrubs as he can to show that he can make anyone into a winner?  That’s what Tom Cable is when he’s picking offensive linemen.  Three out of four seventh round picks were chosen exclusively by Cable as if to say, “Go ahead, rest of the NFL, draft your offensive linemen in the upper rounds.  I’m going to pick these losers nobody wants and they’re going to be BETTER than your overpriced thugs!”

I’m going to say the odds are pretty high that at least one of these guys becomes a starter before his career in the NFL ends, just because Tom Cable is a fucking madman.  Which one is anybody’s guess.  Whether or not he plays for the Seahawks is also anybody’s guess.  Teams like poaching from the castoffs of other, winning teams.  Remember, Breno Giacomini was a fifth rounder out of Green Bay and didn’t start a lick until he came to Seattle.

The Seahawks have found some excellent players in their last three draft classes.  Earl Thomas, Russell Okung, Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin, among others.  For that reason and that reason alone, draft “experts” didn’t destroy the Seahawks for their 2013 class.

Normally I’m of the wait-and-see approach to anything like this, but can you really expect the Seahawks to be amazing EVERY year at drafting starters and stars?  Isn’t there a blip in there somewhere where we look back and go, “What were they thinking THAT year?”  Couldn’t that blip be this very class?

Fortunately, it’s not like the Seahawks NEED any of these guys to be All Pros.  They could all be released and this would still be an elite football team.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.  After all, Seattle has been shit upon enough.  It’s time to start getting greedy.  EVERY draft class will have at least two Pro Bowlers, or else!

Plus, you know, Percy Harvin.  Yeah, don’t forget that guy.

Shaun Alexander’s Chances Of Getting Into The Hall Of Fame

All this talk about Hall of Fames has gotten me interested in Shaun Alexander again.  Make no mistake, I don’t think Shaun Alexander belongs in the Hall of Fame.  He’s right there on the edge … but he doesn’t have the numbers to make it in.

In yesterday’s post, I talked a little shit about Curtis Martin making it in (and, in the process, lowering the bar for someone like Alexander).  Well, I somewhat take that back – I guess longevity deserves recognition as much as actual ability – but I still stand behind my statement that Cortez Kennedy was the best of the bunch in the 2012 class.

Curtis Martin had over 14,000 yards rushing in 168 games over 11 seasons.  11 seasons for a running back is pretty damn impressive.  Also impressive is, in 2004 – his 10th season – Martin won the rushing title (and had his best-ever season) with 1,697 yards (over a reckless 371 attempts … averaging a little over 23 attempts per game).  I would argue that Martin was never a truly elite running back, but he was always pretty damn good.  He had over 1,000 yards in each of his first ten seasons, with his body finally breaking down in that 11th and final go-around.  With that kind of longevity, it’s hard to ignore those numbers.  He was a fucking WORKHORSE.

Shaun Alexander, on the other hand, WAS an elite running back.  From 2001 through 2005, I would argue no one was better; although, if you tack on receptions & receiving yards, it’s probably pretty apparent that LaDainian Tomlinson was better.  Still, if you go by straight rushing, Alexander gets the edge (7,504 yards vs. 7,361 yards) and (87 touchdowns vs. 72 touchdowns).

Throughout that period, it was always neck-and-neck as to who was the best running back, Alexander or LDT.  Fantasy experts would always side with LDT, but if you had to settle for Alexander, it’s not like you were getting a dog with fleas.  You can’t argue with 87 touchdowns in a 5-year period!  You’re looking at a 17 per-season average, with an NFL record 27 in that MVP 2005 season!

Alexander was in the Top 10 in the NFL in rushing four of those five seasons, with his 1,175 in 2002 still good for 13th (and with his 16 touchdowns tied for 2nd).  In 2005, Alexander won the rushing title with 1,880; in 2004, Alexander lost the rushing title by 1 yard to the aforementioned Curtis Martin.

And in rushing touchdowns, Alexander was no worse than tied for 3rd in any of those five seasons (winning the rushing TD title twice).

When my friends and I had a huge drunken civilized argument about Alexander’s Hall of Fame worthiness sometime in 2009 – in an era where we didn’t have iPhones to decide the winners of these debates – I didn’t even have to look at the stats to know that Alexander was a shoo-in.  I mean, SURELY after such a period of dominance, Alexander was WELL beyond the 10,000-yard threshold that seems to be a solid indicator of whether you’re in or not.

Then, later, when I had a chance to sit in front of a computer, I was faced with the cruel, harsh reality:  9,453.  With the final 24 coming in a Redskins uniform.

9,453.  That number looks so small, so impotent.  9,453 of the daintiest little yards you’re ever going to see.

In today’s NFC West Blog, Sando wrote this, talking about Shaun Alexander. 

In it, he talks about how Alexander’s stats are on-par with Earl Campbell, beloved hard-running battering ram who made his name for the Houston Oilers.  He made it into the Hall of Fame with numbers actually slightly WORSE than Alexander’s.  But, he made it into the Hall of Fame based on reputation.  Reputation for never going down, never going out of bounds, never giving up on that extra inch.  Earl Campbell killed his body over eight seasons (only five of which saw him go over 1,000 yards, although one of those sub-1,000 seasons was strike-shortened), and he was rewarded with induction.

No one, not even the dumbest of Seattle homers, is going to confuse Shaun Alexander’s running style with that of Earl Campbell.  Although, I would argue there is one exception, and that’s the Red Zone.  Whenever Shaun Alexander sniffed himself that sweet endzone apple pie cooling on Miss Blanchard’s window sill, he was a rabid dog in hot pursuit.  He finished his career with 100 rushing touchdowns.  87 in his prime, 2 in 2000 when he was a backup to Ricky Watters, and the final 11 over his last two seasons with the Seahawks, when his body started breaking down (as well as his all-world offensive line).  If anyone should have a hate-on for Tim Ruskell, it’s Alexander for him letting Steve Hutchinson go (and thereby letting all those wide-open running lanes go with him).

100 rushing touchdowns, by the way, has Alexander tied for 7th all time.  The person he’s tied with (Marshall Faulk) as well as everyone above him (save Tomlinson, who will be a first-ballot guy whenever he retires) are all in the Hall of Fame, as well as the guy just below him (Barry Sanders) with 99.  Alexander has more touchdowns than Curtis Martin, Eric Dickerson, Franco Harris, Jim Taylor, Earl Campbell, Tony Dorsett, Thurman Thomas, Larry Csonka, and O.J. Simpson (all in the Hall of Fame).  And you’re talking about a guy whose career was cut short by injury and circumstance!

Which is ultimately the shame of it all for a guy like Alexander.  He was in the absolute prime of his life in 2005 when he led this team to the Super Bowl.  Then, he signed a long contract extension, and promptly developed a foot injury.  This injury prevented him from playing in 6 games in 2006 (and prevented him from playing all that well in the other 10 he was in) and 3 games in 2007.  Tack onto that the fact that our offensive line went down the shitter thanks to Tim Ruskell’s idiocy, and the fact that Mike Holmgren was in the midst of being pushed out by an overly-eager front office looking to make a change just for the sake of making a change.  Shaun Alexander didn’t stand a chance.  He didn’t get to have a second career like Tomlinson has had in New York.  Granted, Tomlinson was a little more durable in his first career in San Diego, but he still had an opportunity to tack on over 1,000 yards in these past two seasons as a reserve.  Alexander didn’t even get THAT opportunity.  He was picked up by the Redskins, sat on the bench most of the time, and then discarded like stale pizza crust.

I firmly believe, if we would’ve retained Hutch, it not only would’ve meant our continued success over the last half of last decade, but it would’ve meant Alexander would have easily cleared 10,000 yards.  Even if he was battling injury, it would’ve made his job a helluva lot easier had he had the bodies in front of him capable of doing their jobs properly (as they had between 2001 & 2005).

Alexander got a raw deal, plain and simple.  He may not get the respect of the media in Seattle – who like to belittle him every chance they get because he was a Big Fish in a Small Pond who didn’t kowtow to that Small Pond mentality – or even the respect of most of the fans – who like to conveniently forget all of his tremendous success on the football field in favor of highlighting the times he ran out of bounds to avoid contact – but I always appreciated him as one of The Greats.  He may not ultimately have the numbers to truly rank and belong among The Greats, but he had the skill, the ability, and the drive.  And for five straight years, he was NFL Royalty.

The Hall of Fame might not come a-calling, but will the Ring of Honor do?

Cortez Kennedy: A Deserving Hall Of Famer

All I can say is:  it’s about damn time.

The Greatest There Ever Was ...

Right before the coin toss in yesterday’s boring-for-58-minutes Super Bowl, the announcer in the stadium introduced the 2012 class of NFL Hall of Famers.  I had no idea before this weekend that the NFL picks between 4-7 guys every year regardless.  I figured it was something akin to baseball, where they could have as few as 1 or 2.  Primed with that knowledge, I finally understood why this year was so important for Tez.  In 2011, he was confronted with massive names like Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Shannon Sharpe, and Richard Dent.  These are all huge stars that NFL fans the world over know and admire!  And in 2013, you’ve got guys like Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden, Michael Strahan, Steve McNair, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, and Morten Andersen all eligible for induction.  In following years, more guys like Walter Jones and Orlando Pace figure to be first-ballot guys.

In 2012, however, the best Tez had to contend with were guys like Curtis Martin, Chris Carter (who didn’t make it, which is ridiculous), and Kevin Greene (who also didn’t make it, in spite of being 3rd on the all-time sacks list).  I would argue that Cortez Kennedy is the best of the 2012 class by FAR, though I respect what Chris Doleman was able to do with the Vikings all those years.

Curtis Martin, on the other hand, shows just how low they’re placing that bar for running backs.  Might it get dropped down just a tad more for Shaun Alexander?

Anyway, getting back.  Right before the coin toss, they introduced the 2012 Hall of Fame class.  And, far and away, Curtis Martin got the most cheers (which I guess is understandable, since he played for New England and was a member of the Jets for so many years).  I was kind of put off by the tepid applause for Tez, but that just goes to show what happens when you play your entire career in Seattle.  You don’t get the respect you deserve, that’s for damn sure!

He played the right defensive tackle position and was certainly the greatest who ever played.  Other defensive tackles might have more sacks – which ultimately seem to be the indicator of success, which is foolish to say the least – but Cortez Kennedy was the best all-around defensive tackle ever.  He’s the player younger guys should look to for how to play the position.

Granted, Tez got his sacks – 58 in an 11-year career fighting through constant double and triple teams – but he was SO much more than that.  In an era where running the ball was king, Cortez Kennedy was a force to be reckoned with.  Other teams had to game-plan around what Tez brought to the table in the middle of the line.  They had to dedicate time and man-power towards trying to remove one single element of our defense.  And even when they tried, they STILL failed!

Our Seahawks defenses his first three seasons were all in the Top 10.  That is in spite of the fact that our offenses in his first three seasons were among the worst of all time.  He made the Pro Bowl in every year from 1991 through 1999.  He was a first-team All Pro from 1992 through 1994.  AND, he was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1992, when he had 14 sacks and 92 tackles (while wearing the jersey number 99 in honor of his good friend and mentor Jerome Brown, who died in a car accident prior to the season).

There have been seven guys who were a defensive tackle and won the Defensive Player of the Year (the award dates back to the 1971 season).  In 1999, we had Warren Sapp, who only managed 12.5 sacks and 27 tackles.  In 1997, we had Dana Stubblefield, who had 15 sacks and 48 tackles.  In 1989, we had Keith Millard, who had 18 sacks and an undocumented number of tackles.  Prior to that, Mean Joe Greene won the award twice in the early 70s, with Alan Page winning the very first one in 1971 (during a dark period in our country’s history when they didn’t keep track of sacks or tackles as stats).

Cortez won it with 14 sacks and 92 tackles.  92!  There are linebackers who don’t get that many tackles in a season!  It’s rare for ANY lineman to get more than 50!  And Cortez had 92 in the year 1992.  I don’t know if there’s anyone who is able to track this sort of thing, but I have to imagine that 92 tackles for a defensive tackle is the most ever for that position in any given season.

Kennedy averaged a little over 50 tackles per season during his career, though you could clearly see he was on a bit of a decline in the later years.  Nevertheless, he was easily the most dominant interior defensive lineman of his era, and he remains the greatest I’ve ever seen at his position.  There are lard-ass tackles who weigh 365 pounds and do little more than take up space.  There are speed-rushing tackles with the burst to get double-digit sacks on the reg.  But to be a guy like Kennedy – 6’3, 305 pounds – with the ability to do BOTH:  clog the middle of the field with his considerable size & strength AND the speed to split a double-team and harass the other team’s quarterback; that takes a very special kind of athlete.

One that very-much deserves the honor bestowed upon him this weekend.  Congratulations, Cortez Kennedy!  You are now immortal.