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June 7, 2006

Shaun Alexander : The Case for Number One

It’s not surprising, but the Seattle Seahawks still get little respect in the NFL. More specifically, Shaun Alexander is still not regarded as the best rusher in the NFL by some media outlets. Would you be surprised to learn that he is not even in the top 2 of one media outlet’s gross excuse for NFL coverage? I just finished reading a piece of media, they will remain nameless, that talked about the top running backs in the NFL.

Surprisingly to me, as I actually watch NFL football, Shaun Alexander was listed as number 3, below Tiki Barber and LaDainian Tomlinson. I am sorry, but what? This is a classic case of the elite media following one another like lemmings. What was the basis of this assessment? Is it simply personal bias? It sure appears so. For some reason media outlets don’t like giving Shaun Alexander his due respect and it diminishes their credibility.

I believe Shaun Alexander to be the number on running back in the NFL. If we are talking about next season, you have to put him in the number 1 slot until there is reason to not do so. Let’s forget the fact that Shaun Alexander was the MVP and compare the 2005 numbers between Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Rushing Yards

Shaun Alexander: 1880
LaDainian Tomlinson: 1462

Analysis: Well, Alexander was more valuable in this category. Alexander was the best rusher, yards wise, in the NFL. Tomlinson was ranked sixth.

Average Yards per Carry

Shaun Alexander: 5.1
LaDainian Tomlinson: 4.3

Analysis: Alexander once again proves his value. His number is further strengthened by the fact that he had to carry the ball 34 more times than Tomlinson.


Shaun Alexander: 27
LaDainian Tomlinson: 18

Analysis: Yet another big win for Alexander. He is a record setting running back and a touchdown machine. Tomlinson will most likely never be on the same level in this category.

Longest Run

Shaun Alexander: 88 yards, which resulted in at TD.
LaDainian Tomlinson: 62 yards

Analysis: Ok, this category does not matter much, but I brought it up to show yet another statistical area where Shaun Alexander is better.

As you can see, Shaun Alexander is better in all facets of the game. Saying LaDainian Tomlinson is better has no factual basis and is nothing more that personal bias. I have absolutely no problem with a fan claiming their player is the best—after all, that’s what makes sports great. However, an elite media outlet should be largely free from personal bias and present facts for their readers. If you are going to say Player X is better, then you better have proof aside from the way you “feel.”

I would like to further the argument against Tomlinson, by pointing out the 2004 and 2005 season. In 2005, was Tomlinson in the top 5? No, he was not. However, Shaun Alexander was second in the NFL and just one infamous yard from being the top running back in the NFL. In 2003—going on 3 seasons ago—Tomlinson finished 200 yards ahead of Alexander. So where is all the evidence to many still claiming he is number one?

There’s no doubt that Tomlinson is a good running back and will hopefully entertain us for years to come, but vaulting him to the top spot with no recent statistical proof is absurd. If anything it looks like he is trending down some. Rather than play media copycat, I decided to look at actual play on the field. The media helps prove that it’s better to be flashy.

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