Yahoo Sports senior NFL writer Terez Paylor spoke with former NFL MVP and Seattle Seahawks legend Shaun Alexander about his life since he retired and his take on the evolution of the NFL game.
Shaun joins Yahoo Sports on behalf of the Fedex Air & Ground Players of the Year. Fans can vote for their favorite nominee at www.nfl.com/fedex
TEREZ PAYLOR: All right, I'm here with former NFL All Pro, former NFL MVP, as you can see from the giant trophy behind him, Shaun Alexander who's speaking on behalf of the FedEx Air and Ground Players of the Year Award. And Shaun, we'll get to that in a second. But first of all, how are you doing today, man?
SHAUN ALEXANDER: Man, I'm doing good, man. Thanks for having me. This is a-- it's a lot of fun. It's fun to rep FedEx, you know, the Air and Ground Award since I won it before. But life is good, man. As crazy as this time is, like, football is still a great thing to pull people away from anything except, you know, cheering on your schools or cheering on your team. And they kind of loosen up a little bit. So this is good.
TEREZ PAYLOR: How much football do you still watch these days, my man? You watch a lot of pro football?
SHAUN ALEXANDER: You know, with my boys becoming, like, 11 and 9, it's starting to crank up again, you know what I mean? So I went--
TEREZ PAYLOR: OK. OK.
SHAUN ALEXANDER: --through a phase of, eh, you know? And so now they're like, dad, you know-- they're asking me questions like, hey, was you as good as, [LAUGHS] you know, [INAUDIBLE].
So it's fun answering those questions and seeing their friends respond to them after their dad's telling them who I was when I was playing. [LAUGHS] So that's--
TEREZ PAYLOR: That's hilarious.
SHAUN ALEXANDER: He was-- yeah.
TEREZ PAYLOR: OK.
SHAUN ALEXANDER: 'Cause I don't really tell 'em--
TEREZ PAYLOR: I got you.
SHAUN ALEXANDER: --too much.
TEREZ PAYLOR: Really? OK. Because I was wondering, like, of these running backs in today's game-- and this would be a compliment for them because you're an MVP. There's not a lot of running backs who've done that in the last two decades. Like, when you try to explain to your sons, I ran like this guy or I ran like that guy. Is there anybody that you bring up? Do you compare yourself to anybody, or no? Do you just put on the old tapes?
SHAUN ALEXANDER: Yeah. No, you know. [LAUGHS] You know, I tell them, like, you know, sometimes they'll show a play, and I'll be like, oh yeah, you know what? I made a play like that before. So I can show them, like, a long run or show them [INAUDIBLE].
TEREZ PAYLOR: I got you.
SHAUN ALEXANDER: But what usually happens is, is a uncle or a cousin or friend that come over and they'll play a game and they'll be like, oh man. OK, dad. Yeah. Yeah, you was [INAUDIBLE].
TEREZ PAYLOR: I got you. What is it like for you to watch, like, where football's going? Like, it's still-- it's pretty pass happy now more than it used to be. But the game is more open. So like, do you like it? Because it was a little bit more-- I guess you could say it was more physical in a lot of ways. Defenses had more of a shot. But where football has gone, like, where are you at with it? Are you good with it? Do you enjoy it? Or do you like it the way it was when you played?
SHAUN ALEXANDER: Yeah, I think that it's always evolving, you know? I remember when they said-- it was kind of the end my career-- that they were going to create this thing called the horse-collar. And I said, what you mean? And he was like, they can't pull you back from the back of your-- I was like, I don't know if somebody's going to tackle me, you know what I mean? Like, what--
TEREZ PAYLOR: [LAUGHS]
SHAUN ALEXANDER: --if that's [INAUDIBLE]-- because I was always square you up and get you to miss. And if I got you to miss and you're on my back, how you going to pull me down? And so a lot of the things, you know, targeting and all that stuff, I'm just like, yeah, this just all helps the-- the offensive player. And so I also feel like, you know, great players would figure it out. And so, you know, Marshall Faulk, you know, he's going to figure out how to be Marshall Faulk. You know, Barry Sanders, they going to figure out how to do Barry Sanders things, you know? That doesn't change, you know?
And so that's the same way for me. Like, it didn't matter who I was playing against or what the scheme was, I'm going to figure out how to score touchdowns. And so that's what guys do. It's the guys that fit in the systems and program-type guys, those are guys that it'd be a little bit harder for them to go from generation to generation.
TEREZ PAYLOR: Now, FedEx has a Ground Player of the Year nominees, there's three of them this year. Henry, Cook, Alvin Kamara. Dalvin Cook's from Minnesota. What are your thoughts on those three guys? And as a former winner of this, is there something that you look back on as the years go and be like, yep, this is a really cool thing. Like, what does this add to your life when you get that trophy?
SHAUN ALEXANDER: Yeah, no. You know what? Even the whole FedEx Air and Ground NFL Player of the Year Award, it's so sweet, you know, to know that you are marked with three of the best guys for that year on the ground. Three of the best receiver-- quarterbacks for that year. This year is really special because-- and this one I'm a part of-- I want to get everybody to vote. And we want Yahoo Sports to get-- tell everybody to vote. Voting starts now. It ends at February 2nd at 3:00 o'clock. nfl.com/fedex or Twitter @NFL. Just get your social medias.
But this year is so special because it's always been more than just an award. It's also about impacting people. And the partnership with Direct Relief has been amazing. They are responsible for creating these emergency medical care bags that are helping about 500 people per bag. And for the winner, we gave $20,000 to them-- on behalf of them to that city to go get these emergency medical care bags out. And the goal is about the FedEx Cares 50 by 50, which is helping 50 million people by their 50th year, which is 2023.
And so can you imagine getting all the fans a part of, hey, we want you to be a part of us helping 50 million people. 50 million lives, you know? So that's what makes this thing so exciting, you know? I think that this year is going to be amazing. Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, great running backs. They get it done. I lean towards Derek. Bama guy. Like family to me. 2,000 yards. It's just really special. The air nominees are amazing. The ground nominees are amazing. It's going to be-- it's going to be exciting. I'm excited about just Direct Relief and the whole 50 by 50. It's just been a great cause and so I'm really glad that we got to bring it up and talk about it.
TEREZ PAYLOR: Thank you so much for your time, man. This was great. You know, again, thanks again, man.
SHAUN ALEXANDER: No doubt, man. Bless you, dude.
TEREZ PAYLOR: Take care.