<
>

Alexander named AP Offensive Player of the Year

NEW YORK -- Shaun Alexander's haul of NFL awards has been
rapid.

The Seattle Seahawks running back added The Associated Press
Offensive Player of the Year honor Friday, just hours after he was
voted the NFL's Most Valuable Player.

Just another day at the office for the record-setting Alexander.

"We have vision. Our vision is, `Let's be better than this team
or this city has ever seen," Alexander said.

So far, the Seahawks have been everything Seattle could dream
about, led by the unstoppable six-year veteran.

Alexander set an NFL mark with 28 touchdowns, led the league in
rushing with 1,880 yards, and spearheaded the Seahawks' rise to the
best record in the NFC at 13-3, including a victory over the
league's only 14-2 team, the Colts. It was the most productive
season in Seahawks history.

That earned him 34 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 sports
writers and broadcasters who cover the league. Just as in the MVP
balloting, he was followed by Peyton Manning. But the Indianapolis
quarterback got only eight votes to finish a distant second.

Third was Giants running back Tiki Barber with six, while New
England QB Tom Brady and Cincinnati, QB Carson Palmer each received
one vote.

"I think it's an honor anytime I get mentioned with those
guys," Alexander said. "Brady, three Super Bowls. Peyton has just
changed the game for quarterbacks. Tiki is like my cousin; that's
my family. So you just watch those guys and you are just excited
for what they do for football. Even to be mentioned with those guys
is just exciting for me. And that's what I try to shoot for, is to
be mentioned with those guys."

While Alexander was closing in on the touchdown record and
rushing titles last month, he was also closing some large purchases
for his big blockers.

He bought portable video players for each of his offensive
linemen and fullbacks -- from Pro Bowlers Steve Hutchinson, Walter
Jones and Mack Strong to rookie reserves Chris Spencer and Leonard
Weaver.

"These guys are a bunch of gadget guys," Alexander said. "It
is so funny. You can't find little things for their big fingers. So
I got them ... walking TiVos, basically. It is a 7-inch screen and
you can record movies and TV shows. Everybody has got their music
they like. You can record pictures of your family.

"Everybody was really, really excited."

They were even more thrilled when a Seahawks staffer popped his
head into a meeting room Thursday morning and flashed the
"thumbs-up" sign to Alexander. The MVP was his -- make that,
theirs. All the offensive players stood and high-fived each other.

Then Alexander's family called from northern Kentucky with this
sobering news: "You need to get the offensive line even bigger
gifts now."

To Alexander, the biggest gift would be the Super Bowl.

Throughout his media session Thursday, Alexander referred to the
MVP as a group award. Of those punishing blockers. Of Pro Bowl
quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's NFC-best passing efficiency and knack
for changing into the right play at the line of scrimmage. Of coach
Mike Holmgren's game plans, play calling and support.

Holmgren called 20 first-half runs for Alexander last week at
Green Bay to ensure he collected both the touchdown record and the
rushing title.

"We set some goals as a group," Alexander said. "We keep them
quiet until we started realizing that we were getting close to
hitting all these things and then they became reality for us.

"This is an exciting award, it's just exciting. All the guys
they say it just like I want them to say it, that we won the MVP.
And we have."

When asked about all of Alexander's "we" talk, Hasselbeck
chuckled and said: "There is a fine if you use third-person
references. Maybe he is trying to avoid the fine."

"Other than that, I would have to agree," Hasselbeck said.
"He has been a team guy this year."

Alexander is the first Seahawks player to win each award.
Manning took both of them in 2004.