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Book Review: Touchdown Alexander

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Shaun Alexander is undoubtedly one of the best football players in the game today. Though he plays for the Seattle Seahawks, a team that does not get the attention of some of the franchises in the major markets, his name is known to any football fan. Last year he set a new single season touchdown record, scoring an amazing 28 times (though it appears that this record will stand for only one season as LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers seems likely to overtake it. With 4 regular season games remaining, L.T. has already scored 27 touchdowns and has thrown for 2 more!). Since his sophomore campaign in 2001 he has been a force to be reckoned with, piling up the yardage and scoring at least 16 times in each season.

While Alexander is an exceptionally talented athlete and may be one of the best to ever play the game, this is not what he wants his legacy to be. Touchdown Alexander tells his story of “faith, football, and pursuing the dream.” Written with Cecil Murphey, who co-wrote the bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven, this is Shaun Alexander’s autobiography. While it is not particularly well-written, it is enjoyable nonetheless.

Born into single-parent family, Alexander began to play football in the second grade. It did not take him long to get noticed as a talented athlete and, by high school, he was a star, destroying record after record. He chose to attend the University of Alabama where he was a standout and where he still holds 9 different records. He was drafted in the first round of the 2000 NFL entry draft (behind names such as Sebastian Janikowski, Ron Dayne, Plaxico Burress, Jamal Lewis and the first selection overall, Courtney Brown) and began his career as a Seahawk. While he played little in his first season, he broke out in his second and has been a superstar ever since.

Despite the millions of dollars he earns (he recently signed a contract that will pay him over $60 million and earns millions more in endorsements) and despite the endless accolades, he refuses to define himself by what he does. “My name is Shaun Alexander, and I’m a running back for the Seattle Seahawks football team. That’s what I do, but that’s not who I am. Football is something I’m good at, but it isn’t my total life. I’m also a husband, a father, and a Christian man. I’m a mentor to younger men as well, because they are our future.” This book is framed around those two aspects of Alexander’s life: who he is and what he does. He focuses both on his faith and on his profession. He often focuses on the times where his faith intersects with his profession. And really, it’s quite a good story.

While Alexander’s faith is made clear in this book, it is also shown to rely heavily on mystical aspects. He speaks often of hearing directly from God, of receiving revelatory dreams, and so on while seeming to receive less guidance from the Bible. He speaks often of mistakes, but never of sin. While he seems to know and to love the Word, the gospel is never clearly presented. And to be honest, at times the book seemed to lack just a little bit of the humility we’d hope to see in the life of a believer. I know that it is difficult to write an autobiography that portrays humility, yet this one often seemed just a little presumptuous.

Despite a few misgivings, this book was an enjoyable read and one I would have little trouble recommending to others. It may be especially well-received by fans of the game and by teens who are eager for a little light reading. Alexander’s story is not a story of tragedy and overcoming. Rather, it is a story of redemption and, as he makes clear, a story of God’s incredible outpouring of blessing in one man’s life. And so far it seems to be a life well-lived.

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