If you remember the Colts of the mid-1990s, you remember Elijah Alexander. He was a fairly consistent starter at linebacker for the Colts from 1996-1998. Sadly, it's with a heavy heart that we report (via Fanhouse) that Elijah has lost his fight with multiple myeloma, which is cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow. He was only 39-years-old.
Alexander played on the Colts playoff team in 1996 and in Peyton Manning's rookie year in 1998. In his last season in Indy, he started nine games. Alexander left the Colts and eventually played in Oakland for Jon Gruden's Raiders. He was a starter for them in 2000 and 2001, and was on the now-infamous Raiders team that was screwed over by the "Tuck Rule" in the playoffs against the Patriots. He retired following the 2001 season. Alexander played nine seasons in the NFL, drafted in the 10th round by the Buccaneers and later signed by the Broncos for three years before coming to Indy.
But it is not just a rather impressive playing career that Alexander will be remembered for. After retirement, Alexander founded of the Tackle Cancer Foundation, an organization focused on helping cancer patients get the information and resources they need to make informed decisions about their health. On the foundation's website, they have an introduction from Alexander which reads:
If you are a patient, family member, or caregiver dealing with cancer, you are not alone, and I don't want you to FEEL alone - ever. There are others just like you, including me. None of us has all the support and resources that we need, but if we join forces as a team, we can share information and resources with each other and ultimately make better decisions about our health.
As we often say around here, football is just a game. What a player does on the field of play is quite small in comparison to what he can do off the field. Elijah Alexander might have been a minor, somewhat-obscure linebacker in the eyes of fans and media during his playing career. However, outside of football, this guy seemed like a giant.
A good man and a strong advocate for people surviving with cancer has left us. Our thoughts go to his family, including his wife Kimberly, and his two boys: Elijah IV and Evan.
If you wish to honor the memory of Elijah Alexander with a donation to his Tackle Cancer Foundation, click here and give.