- John Keim, ESPN Washington Redskins reporter
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The ex-Redskin made a difficult decision to leave Washington last offseason, but considering the difference in offers and the chance to start, it was the right one. However, Alexander suffered a season-ending Lis Franc injury to his right foot on Sept. 22. Alexander’s family moved out to Arizona to be with him during the season, but they maintained a house in Ashburn, Va. He also will host a Celebrity Bowling Benefit in Maryland next month.
I caught up with Alexander this week to talk about a number of issues, from his foot to what happened in Washington. I'll have a little more from him Saturday. For now, here’s Alexander on:
His recovery: My foot is doing pretty well. I’m almost four months from the injury date and I just started running on the unloader (a machine that straps you in and can take 100 pounds off your body weight and ease the stress on the injured part). I’m expected to be back for OTAs and not miss anything.
How hard last season was: I try to look at it in a positive manner. Obviously I was upset and sad I couldn’t play. My body was still in the motion of, ‘It’s Sunday, it’s time to do something,’ for the first two or three weeks. I’ve seen a lot of guys get hurt and I’ve always believed the best way is to be productive and focus on the positives. I had to figure out a different way to be effective with the team, more being a vocal leader and helping the young guys and coaching them up. I also worked on things for my post career, so it was a great precursor for me. I’m on the back end of my career, whether it ends next year or four or five years from now. How would I attack it and be productive and not be depressed and go through things guys tend to go through.
Post-career aspirations: I enjoy the media so broadcasting, whether TV or radio it doesn’t matter. I hope to have financial freedom when I’m done playing, but I want to serve people, whether working through a non-profit or my church. That’s where my heart is.
How weird it was to watch both teams’ seasons unfold without him: It was hard to watch the Redskins play because I have so many great relationships with the guys and some of the coaches. You don’t want to see anyone go through that hardship, guys like Kedric [Golston] and London [Fletcher] and Perry [Riley], Ryan [Kerrigan], [Bob] Slowik. All guys I had great relationships with. I thought they would be a playoff contender and to see London go out the way he did was hard. You never want to see a player that great go out from a team perspective the way he did.
My team was bittersweet for me. You wanted to be out there and we had a chance to go to the playoffs. You want to be part of that. You don’t want to be the guy on a team that goes to the Super Bowl and people ask were you on that team and you’re like, ‘I was hurt.’ I struggled with that. Then, when you sign a big deal and get hurt [people say], ‘They gave this dude all this money and he’s hurt.’ I felt that pressure internally. No one ever said anything to me or made me feel that way. But being an undrafted guy and seeing guys get contracts and then get hurt… I was letting them down because they invested in me. But I was reassured based on how they guys took me in that I still felt like I was a Cardinal -- from ownership on down.
How long it took for him to consider himself a Cardinal and not a Redskin: Once we started playing games. Obviously you’re in one place for so long. I’m trying to correct the way I talk when I say we or us with the Redskins. You have to go through those mental gymnastics, the way you speak and the words you use. It took a while. But once you start playing games and go out there and are fighting for a common goal, that’s when it gells and you become part of that organization….Everything worked out for the best.
If he saw the Redskins’ collapse coming: No. It was crazy. I thought they would be in contention to win the division. It’s hard to repeat what you did the year before in any circumstances. A couple teams are pretty good year in and year out but teams can jump out of nowhere or fall out of grace really easily. Atlanta, Houston... there were a lot of teams that were great and weren’t good this year. It happens.
What stood out to him about playing in Washington: What we were able to do last year. That seven-game run to get in the playoffs and change the culture, I guess temporarily looking at it now, of being competitive. That was the most fun I’ve had. It was a Pro Bowl season for me, I played a lot more defense, guys were out there balling and we had fun.
The tough part about playing in Washington: The biggest thing for me was the inconsistency from a culture standpoint because I went through three head coaches, three defensive coordinators. The great organizations have stability in the coaching staff and things like that do create some continuity. But it’s already established, like what the Patriots have done and the Green Bays and the Steelers. They have a culture and no matter who’s there or not they usually win year in and year out. There’s no off-field drama. That’s the biggest thing that was so draining. It doesn’t take away from you preparing, but I was tired of answering questions about something that has nothing to do with the game.
The ex-Redskin made a difficult decision to leave Washington last offseason, but considering the difference in offers and the chance to start, it was the right one.