Matt Hasselbeck On Leaving The Seattle Seahawks: “It’s like if you have ever been dumped by your girlfriend, but a little worse.”
The NFL can be a cold hard business. Just ask Matt Hasselbeck the newest member of the Tennessee Titans. The man who gave every ounce of pride, spirit and heart to the city of Seattle for ten years found out a few weeks ago that Pete Carroll and John Schneider we’re moving in a different direction. It may be a baffling direction with Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst, but Hasselbeck was getting the sense that his time was up in the “Emerald City” by the start of free agency when he didn’t receive an early phone call. The man who played in in 14 games last season, throwing for 3,001 yards, 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions while completing 59.9 percent of his passes uses an interesting analogy to compare the feeling of being told he was no longer wanted in Seattle, but you can empathize with the feeling that it hurts to know when you aren’t wanted especially when you are a professional athlete.Mike Reinfeldt and the Tennessee Titans came calling immediately as the organization that wanted to make the the 35-year-old quarterback feel wanted again and Hasselbeck couldn’t have sounded any happier about reuniting with a familiar face that he knew from his days back in Green Bay and Seattle. In the following interview with KJR in Seattle, Hasselbeck speaks glowingly of the opportunity he has in Tennessee to work with such a great offensive line and the chance to mentor a young kid in Jake Locker. After listening to Hasselbeck you get a growing sense of respect for the veteran quarterback who is looking to make an impact in helping a young rookie, who happened to meet his mentor when he was a college kid back in Washington.Matt Hasselbeck joined KJR in Seattle with Dave “Softy” Mahler and Hugh Millen to discuss what Mike Holmgren did for his professional football career, his prospective on why he isn’t a member of the Seattle Seahawks any longer, his reaction when he was told by the Seattle Seahawks that they were going in a different direction, seriously considering any other free agent offers from teams outside of the Tennessee Titans, other organizations that offered him free agent deals besides the Tennessee Titans and the first time he ever met Jake Locker in Seattle.
With all the memories you have of being a member of the Seattle Seahawks what did Mike Holmgren mean in your career?
“Oh yeah, I mean looking back I think I had that once he left. The change once he left I think I realized who he was and what he brought to the table and I remember when I first got here and I struggled a bit and then they played Trent Dilfer and then we were practicing and we were doing bad and Trent Dilfer and [Robbie] Tobeck were on the sidelines and Mike Holmgren is just about to lose his lid. He is just ready to blow up and he turns over to Tobeck and Dilfer and he goes ‘I’m looking for you two guys to grab this team and put them on your back and get this thing turned around.’ Both of them are standing there and I found out later that Tobeck says to Dilfer…he’s like ‘Boy I hope there’s two guys standing behind us right now.’ He was tough. He was a fun guy. He pushed us harder than we though we could be pushed. He pushes coaches. To get compliments from him though is just awesome because they don’t come around that often.”
Let me just ask you from your perspective why isn’t Matt Hasselbeck a Seahawk anymore?
“It’s professional football. It’s professional football. Teams…every year roster spots are not guaranteed. You hear Tom Brady say it every year during training camp saying ‘Hey I hope to be the starter this year. I hope to make the team this year.’ That’s just the mindset they have in New England. It’s legit. It’s kind of the mindset every year that the team gets to decide who they want on their team, especially at the quarterback position, especially in Seattle when it got talked about a lot starting in 2008. Who’s the next guy? Who’s the next guy? It just became a…I don’t know. I think it was one of those things where they decided they wanted someone else at quarterback or they decided that they had a vision for the future and that future didn’t fit as well if I was there this year. I don’t know. I don’t know. It happened fast. I can say that. I can say I am appreciative. I said it before, but I’m appreciative to Pete Carroll and John Schneider for calling me. At least telling me over the phone instead of me having to hear it from you know Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter or you guys or whoever.”
What was the first day of free agency like when it started early in the morning for you? What was the first thing that came to your mind when you were given the news that the Seahawks didn’t want you as their starting quarterback this year?
“I’m just trying to remember. Like you said it was early in the morning. I think everyone thought Kevin Kolb was going to get traded at 7 in the morning and nothing really happened for awhile, but at the same time all my Seahawks teammates were getting calls from their coaches, from everybody. I mean even guys who weren’t coming back. I had nothing. I had nothing for awhile. It was a few hours. Maybe almost lunch time nothing was happening. I was getting no calls, so when they finally did call I kind of had a feeling that it wasn’t good news or something weird was up. I figured they were trading for Kevin Kolb. Quite honestly that’s what I thought, but either way it didn’t matter. They told me ‘Hey listen we’re appreciative. Last year was fun.’ Whatever they said. More than anything I think I was appreciative that they called me, but it’s tough. It’s like if you have ever been dumped by your girlfriend. It’s like that, but a little worse.”
We always thought the Tennessee Titans were an ideal landing spot for you, but did you get any offers from anyone else? Did you seriously consider any other offers?
“Yeah. Yeah. I did. At the end of the day I just thought this was a good opportunity. A really, really, good offensive line. A great running game. Our left tackle is Michael Roos from Eastern Washington University. He’s been here six years and never missed a game. I got a good right tackle. I’ve always thought about myself if I’ve got a good left tackle or I got a good pass protection than I’m decent player, but when I don’t it’s a little different, so I just thought that situation was attractive. I talked to Mike Munchak the head coach here right after and just his philosophy on that whole thing was the same as mine and to be honest maybe it was on the rebound and I just got dumped. I got a call from the head coach. I was just like oh man it feels good to be wanted, but I think at the end of the day this was a good opportunity. The fact that Jake Locker was here was attractive to me because like I said I always appreciated the things that older quarterbacks did for me when I was coming up. They didn’t have to. I really learned a lot from them. To be with young guys through my career and some guys are all about ‘Hey help me out or let’s do this together or whatever.’ Some guys aren’t. I know the kind of person he is and we got a lot of mutual friends, so I think that was part of it too. Like I said before my other options were going to be in the division and that was something that came into my mind a little bit. How did I feel about that? I just went ahead and pulled the trigger here in Tennessee and like I said it kind of happened fast.”
Who else offered you a free agent deal besides the Tennessee Titans?
“I don’t want to get into a whole like…whatever. [Dave “Softy” Mahler: Give us one team?] My decision came down to San Francisco or Tennessee. At the end of the day that was my decision and San Fran would have been attractive for a whole bunch of reasons and that offense I believe is pretty similar. My man Bobby Engram is up there coaching wide receivers. I felt good about that, but at the end of the day I think my conversation with the head coach and the offensive line here and a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff just felt really good about it. I had a conversation with Mike Reinfeldt, who I trust. I know his character. I know his integrity. I know what kind of person he is. He did my first rookie contract in Green Bay. He did my first and second contracts in Seattle. When he told me things I just believed because I know him. That meant a lot too.”
Is there any interesting note about the start of your mentorship with Jake Locker?
“Not really. We kind of tried to hook up a few times. I remember the first time I met him. This probably isn’t the coolest way to tell a story about how you meet somebody. I think I was at a University of Washington Women’s basketball game with my two little girls and I go to get a drink or whatever and this kid comes walking up and he’s like ‘Hey Mr. Hasselbeck I wanted to introduce myself.’ I could tell he was a football player by his build or whatever and I’m like ‘Hey what’s up man.’ I thought he was a linebacker or tight end or something. He’s like ‘Hey my name is Jake Locker. I’m a quarterback here.’ I think he was a sophomore. I was like ‘Wow dude you are thick.’ I think that was our first interaction. We were talking about that the other day, but that was a long, long time ago and who would have thought years later we’d be in Nashville, Tennessee, rocking cowboys boots and hanging out with country music stars in between practices. I think the logical thing would have been hey this kid is going to end up in Seattle. Everyone in Seattle wants him there. It would be a good fit. I’m really happy that we are together and that our quarterback room is as cool as it is.”