NFL MVP working for Christ & Playing Chess
Ex-NFL MVP Alexander taking 'tour for Jesus'
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Shaun Alexander fills his days with a mix of the spiritual and physical.
The former NFL MVP is on a nine-city tour speaking at churches, clubs and businesses - anywhere that will let him share his Christian faith. In the meantime, a different kind of faith carries him through a tough workout regimen: That an NFL team in need of a running back will summon him before the 2009 season is up.
"I feel before the season is over, I think somebody will go down and they'll say, 'We want somebody who can score some touchdowns and make some things happen,'" Alexander said during a phone interview Thursday. "They'll say, 'Let's go get Shaun.'"
Alexander's initial return to the NFL was short-lived. The Washington Redskins signed him last October to fill in for injured backup Ladell Betts. Alexander had only 11 carries in five games before he was released, an aborted comeback after the Seattle Seahawks cut him following two seasons marred by foot and wrist injuries.
Alexander, who turns 32 in August, feels like his body has more football left in it.
"I've played nine years but really it feels like I played maybe four because of how the game is played and how coach (Mike) Holmgren and Stump Mitchell used me," the former Alabama star said.
"Even my MVP year, I didn't play in nine quarters because we were beating teams so bad," he said.
Alexander ran for 1,880 yards and 17 touchdowns during that 2005 season, helping carry the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl appearance and landing a $62 million contract as a result.
His career went downhill after that, with a shrinking per-carry average and only 1,612 yards and 12 TDs over the next two seasons. Alexander said he has received calls from NFL teams checking in this summer, but no offers.
When he's home in Ashburn, Va., Alexander said he does three-a-day workouts every other week, working on agility and lifting weights - "which is just so miserable. Oh my goodness" - in the morning and running in the afternoons.
"It's pretty intense," Alexander said. "Everybody always laughs, 'Man you have a busy week.' I'm like, 'This is not busy, this is the choice. I choose to train and get ready to have a great season next year, and I choose to be used to teach little people about Jesus.'"
The latter mission is behind what he calls his "nine-city tour for Jesus."
Now, he and his wife and children have landed in Mobile, along with six youth he has mentored. On Wednesday, they spoke at four churches or groups.
On Thursday, his stops included Alma Bryant High School, where former Alabama assistant Ronnie Cottrell coaches the football team.
Alexander is hosting a lunch Friday at Hank Aaron Stadium to raise money to send kids to Fellowship of Christian Athletes camps. He's also involved in programs to teach second- and third-graders how to play chess and prevent kids from dropping out of high school.
The other cities on his tour have included Seattle, Los Angeles, Tulsa, Okla., Dallas, Baton Rouge, La., Washington D.C. and Atlanta. It winds up in Birmingham on July 14.
"It's been fun. We've been able go out there and help the homeless and get them food and stuff," Alexander said. "I've been able to walk the streets and I've been able to just talk to people. It's been really cool."
Getting that summons from the NFL wouldn't be bad either.
"If the right team comes along," he said, "... they will be very, very happy with what they get."