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Seahawks RB Alexander limps to Pro Bowl

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Feb. 8, 2006) -- Turns out dropped passes, penalties and disputed officials' calls weren't the only things going against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

League MVP Shaun Alexander revealed Feb. 7 he sprained his right foot during the Seahawks' championship loss to Pittsburgh.

"I didn't even know it happened, but it swelled up," he said, hours before he and six teammates flew to Hawaii to play in the Pro Bowl.

Alexander said he will get treatment in Hawaii before deciding whether to play Feb. 12 on the swollen foot. He got hurt while rushing 20 times for 95 yards in Seattle's 21-10 loss to the Steelers.

The league rushing champion and single-season record holder for touchdowns said he considered the Pro Bowl "an honor" he did not take lightly. He was selected for the game for the third consecutive season.

"If I can play, I'm going to play," he said. "I want to have fun with six of my friends one more time -- and hopefully not for the last time."

That's a Seattle issue far more complicated than a sprained foot.

The Super Bowl was the last game of Alexander's contact. Agent Jim Steiner said last week he and the Seahawks agreed early last month to table negotiations until after the postseason.

Seattle's all-time leading rusher, with 7,817 yards over six seasons, said talks between Steiner and Seahawks president Tim Ruskell and salary-cap guru Mike Reinfeldt might resume today.

If the two sides don't reach an agreement before March 3, Alexander will become a free agent.

That's why Alexander gave the team that drafted him in 2000 a reminder Feb. 7 -- as if it needed one.

"Twenty-three days," Alexander said. "We have 23 days for the Seahawks to make a decision."

He said "it crossed my mind a little bit" upon the team's return to Seattle on Feb. 6 that the Super Bowl could have been his last game with the team.

But, he added, "I just don't think it's going to happen.

"We all think it will work out great," he said. "Then, we will all be getting ready for another 16 games and then get ready for Miami (site of Super Bowl XLI)."

He said the Seahawksalready have presented offers of two, three, four and six years.

But for Alexander, contract length is not an issue. He discounted the fact he will turn 29 in August, noting New York Jet Curtis Martin was 31 when he won the league rushing title in 2004.

Money is the issue.

Alexander said he doesn't need to wait for free agency and multiple offers from eager suitors to know what price is right.

"Fair is fair," Alexander said. "I know what fair is. Other teams don't decide what fair is. I think the Seahawks definitely know.

So what's fair?

"Oh, $600 billion. No, $599 billion," Alexander said, chuckling.

Alexander and Steiner know Seattle gave Matt Hasselbeck a huge signing bonus in the six-year deal the Pro Bowl quarterback received last February. They also know what six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones received in his seven-year deal last April.

No comparison, Alexander said.

"I'm the only one in history who's done what I've done," he said.

Seattle also has Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson as a possible, pricey free agent. But unlike with Alexander, Seattle could use its one franchise designation on Hutchinson to keep him from leaving.

The team doesn't have that option with Alexander. Last summer it promised not to again use the franchise tag on him this offseason in exchange for Alexander signing its one-year tender offer for 2005.

Alexander said what happens with Hutchinson or even Pro Bowl fullback Mack Strong, also a potential free agent, will affect his decision on whether to stay. But he knows his team owner is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. And he knows the team has the cash cow of a new, habitually sold-out stadium with luxury boxes and a championship inside it.

"What people don't understand is, our pie's pretty big, that we can all take some," Alexander said. "The Seahawks, as an organization, don't have an issue with that.

"The question is, are we just going to do it? Or are we not?"

Asked last week if Alexander would be playing for Seattle in 2006, Steiner said: "I think we're still too far away to be able to determine. We're still on the fence."

Allen, meanwhile, said immediately after the Super Bowl he was optimistic about Alexander's return.

AP NEWS
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