•ON HOW HE BECAME A RUNNING BACK One time in pee-wee, I scored two TDs on kickoff returns, but we lost 38-12. People were telling me I had a good game, and I realized that was because of the TDs. When I figured out that the running back scores the most, I said, 'That's what I want to be.'
•ON SCORING That's the only goal. If I have 200 yards rushing and no TDs, that's failure. Just failure.
•ON VISITING TUSCALOOSA, WHERE HE SET ALABAMA RUSHING RECORDS OF 3,565 YARDS AND 41 TDS FROM 1996 TO '99 If I go out in public, I have to have someone with me. People come up and say, 'Hey, you make me an NFL fan.' That's humbling, because the South is about college football. By the end of the conversation, there'll be a crowd wanting autographs. There could be 1,000 people there, waiting.
•ON HIS WIFE OF NEARLY THREE YEARS, VALERIE She balances me out. Sometimes I'm too laid-back, and she fires things up. We have a group of friends we meet with, and we broke ourselves down into one of four personality types. I scored as an otter--a carefree guy who lets things roll off his back and doesn't get deeply involved with many people. Val scored as a lion: Lions control the show, or at least think they control the show. At home, if I try to cook a meal, I'll hear it from her. 'Did you use this ingredient? Did you cook it this long?' I just say, 'Taste it. If it tastes good, I did fine.'
•ON SEATTLE AND THE SEAHAWKS People tell me this is a football town. But if you have to keep insisting that it is, well.... At Boone County High in Kentucky we would get more than 10,000 people a week. People would come from out of state to watch us play. Tailgating started at four o'clock for a Friday night game. My sophomore year at Alabama, we were 4-7, on probation, and the stadium was packed. When you say 'football town,' that's what I compare it to.
•ON KEEPING THE FAITH One day at church when I was 10, the pastor was screaming. An old lady was rocking in her seat, and a guy was crying. The choir was moonwalking in the aisles. They were all saying, 'Thank you Jesus.' I said, 'Mom, I need to know who this Jesus is.' For me, it's still about learning who he really is, falling in love with him every day.
•ON HIS RUNNING STYLE I'm deceptive. I can look like I'm chillin', and be haulin'. And I can look like I'm haulin', and be chillin'.
•ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH COACH MIKE HOLMGREN, WHOM HE GOT MAD AT FOR NOT GIVING HIM THE BALL WHEN HE HAD A SHOT AT THE NFL RUSHING TITLE ON SUNDAY We got it figured out this season. I've been playing Coach H's game, but he's been letting my personality and my style flow. It's been a process. When I first got here, I was judgmental about Coach. I had been treated well by my high school coaches, then Gene Stallings. All these coaches were into me. Coach H was different. I thought, I'll keep my distance because I don't know how he's going to act. Instead of just loving him--saying, O.K., Coach, that's how you are? That's cool--I was judging, wary. When Coach came here, he was called the Genius, and I think he was shocked the team didn't fall in behind him right away. The thing with this generation of players is that even if you're the smartest coach in history--and Coach H is right there--you have to love us first. Then we'll follow you.
•ON HIS NICKNAMES In high school it was Mr. Touchdown. At Alabama, the Icon. But my favorite is one not many people know. Two years ago our Dlinemen were saying how I hit the hole and disappear. I hit the line, and they can't find me, I'm gone. They started calling me the Ghost. 'It's the Ghost!' they'd cry. It stuck. I really like that one. --As told to Josh Elliott
"EVEN IF YOU'RE THE SMARTEST COACH ... YOU HAVE TO LOVE US FIRST. THEN WE'LL FOLLOW YOU."
Photograph by Rich Frishman
ALEXANDER THE GREAT LED THE NFC WITH 1,696 RUSHING YARDS AND 20 TDS. SEATTLE HOSTS ST. LOUIS ON SATURDAY.
DAVID GONZALES/ICON SMI (ALEXANDER ACTION)
AL MESSERSCHMIDT/WIREIMAGE.COM (DORSETT)
"You've got all this open space, and you're just free. All the tension is gone."--Tony Dorsett, Former Cowboy RB, Seeing Daylight, page 32