All it took was one look at this guy to realize that football is back. Only at a gathering of football fans can a man wearing tight-ish leather pants, spikes around his sleeve and a sailor hat not be considered weird and out of place. In fact, it’s the opposite. That’s the kind of thing football turns people into. That’s the person we all become while watching football.
And those are the people that came to the NFL’s “Back to Football Photo Day” Tuesday evening in Manhattan. The purpose behind “Photo Day” was to celebrate the return of the real most wonderful time of the year—football season. Nike—in its first season as the official uniform provider of the NFL—and the NFL did this by choosing one fan representative from every NFL team to fly to New York City and take place in a Nike organized photo shoot. Each fan was outfitted in their favorite team’s Nike apparel for the shoot and had the opportunity to meet NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
But that was the day time. In the evening, it was time to celebrate the upcoming NFL season. Along with the 32 “Photo Day” winners, Nike and the NFL invited some other super fans, VIPs and former NFL players to join them at Skylight Studio West in midtown Manhattan. Among the notable former players were Tony Dorsett, Shaun Alexander, Derrick Brooks and Jason Sehorn. Fox Sports’ Kevin Frazier MC’d the event, but when TDdaily tried getting a Super Bowl prediction from Frazier, the host of “The Insider” refused.
“Anybody who thinks they know who’s going to be in the Super Bowl is a fool,” Frazier said. “It’s like going to Vegas and throwing a pile of money up in the air. Nobody knows. Nobody expected the Giants to be in the Super Bowl last year, its crazy. So, if anybody says they know who’s going to be in the Super Bowl, smack ‘em.
“I refuse to try to predict the Super Bowl. Ever. Ever!!”
Luckily, well before hearing Kevin Frazier rip on one our feature ideas (we kid, we kid), TDdaily did speak to former Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander about fantasy football, his faith and Tim Tebow.
TD: You were on the cover of Madden NFL ’07, and then that year (the 2006 NFL season), you played in just 10 games—the first time in your then-seven year career that you didn’t play in all 16 games—and your rushing total dropped by nearly a thousand yards. So, do you believe in the Madden Curse?
Shaun Alexander: I think that anybody who believes in the Madden curse, they don’t know football. There are 32 teams with 32 quarterbacks and 32 tailbacks, and 16 of them get hurt every year. What are we saying, here?! This is football. If you get enough chances and enough snaps, you’re going to take a beating.
TD: You had some monster years when fantasy football was really starting to take off, and I imagine you would get fans coming up to you all the time to tell you about how you either helped, or hurt their fantasy teams. Did you enjoy that? How do you feel about fantasy football?
SA: I think it’s fun. I think that fantasy football definitely put me on the map, and definitely got people to start watching Seattle football. If I was in Dallas or New York, I might look at it differently, but before fantasy football, people were not watching Seahawks games. But once fantasy football started to take off, then, all of the sudden, people were watching Seattle games and were loving us, and me—they were putting me on their teams and I was winning them money (Laughs). Even now, I’ve been retired for three years, and I still get letters from fans all the time saying “You won me so much money,” and “I think of you all the time when I play in this (fantasy football) league.” So I think it’s funny and great.
TD: What’s the funniest example of a fan coming up to you to tell you about his fantasy team?
SA: You know what? It’s so constant I can’t just pick out one. I mean even today, I still get letters from fans, and they’re always the same—they’re happy because I won them money. It’s just always been a fun thing for me. Fantasy football is a pretty sweet deal.
TD: You’ve always been someone who is outspoken, or honest about your faith and your beliefs. So when you see someone like Tim Tebow doing similar things, and at times getting criticized for it, how do you react?
SA: I think it’s supposed to be criticized. I think that when people say that you’re outspoken about your faith, I think that’s an oxymoron. I would never come up to someone and say “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” I just wouldn’t do that. But if they see my life, and they see my character, and they ask me why I do that and act that way, I’ll them why. And if people ask him (Tebow) why he acts like he does, he can tell them why. And then everything else is jut about making his, or your own decisions. He chose to be pure before he gets married; I did, too. He chose to stay away from things that the world calls pleasurable; I have alcoholics in my family, I have people that strung out on drugs who wished they never took the stuff…so I made that decision, too. And I think that people can do what they want, but when you don’t do that stuff, it marks you at a young age and becomes part of you, in terms of how people look at you. So for me, I think what Tim does is cool because he’s obviously doing that stuff because he wants to. I don’t think everything is for everybody. So people have to go through things. I rather people do what they’re going to do, and what they want to do, and then learn from their mistakes. And that they seek the truth and go find it.
TD: Is it hard to live that life while being part of an NFL locker room?
SA: It’s a choice. Either I can be loyal or I don’t have to be loyal. It’s never hard when you decide to do something on your own and because you want to. Things get hard when somebody else is deciding for you. So, you can always tell why someone is doing something, or who they are doing it for by how easy it is for them to give in. Obviously there are going to be struggles. We’re all human. But if the reason you decided to live that life is because you made that choice, for you, that’s when it’s easier.
TD: Last thing—do you wish you could have played in these new Nike NFL Elite 51 uniforms—especially Seattle’s?
SA: Oh, man, I’m so mad at Nike, they should have had this stuff 10 years ago. And if they did, I would have been so sweet in that green and black, my goodness. I would have went off. I wish Nike would have done this stuff before.
Yaron Weitzman is an Associate Editor for TDdaily.com Follow him on Twitter at @YaronWeitzman.