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Ex-Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck says he’s following his father’s footsteps in donating his brain for research

"I’m not gonna need my brain once I’m dead; I barely need it now, so I figured why not?” (AP)
LISTEN: Former QB Matt Hasselbeck on Russell Wilson leadership, brain donation

Former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck told “Brock and Salk” Thursday that he suffered only one documented concussion over his 17-year NFL career, but he’s decided to donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, following in his father’s footsteps.

“This is something that my dad had done,” Matt said of his dad Don, who spent eight seasons as a tight end in the NFL. “My dad was like, ‘Listen, I want the game to be safer for my grandkids,’ and there’s really just very little data out there. There’s not a ton of science, not a lot of studies that can tell us, hey is it safer to play soccer or football? We don’t actually know the answer to that. Is it more harmful for a bunch of small hits – say like an offensive tackle – or is it more dangerous or is it safer for a wide receiver or a quarterback who takes maybe four monster hits a season? What’s worse, what’s better? I just think helping the medical community out in any way that we can is the smart thing to do.”

Hasselbeck added: “I’m not gonna need my brain once I’m dead; I barely need it now, so I figured why not?”

Hasselbeck and two-time Super Bowl champion Leonard Marshall were the most recent former NFL players to announce their donations to the foundation for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Former Seahawks Lofa Tatupu and Sidney Rice previously did so. Marshall says he already has short-term memory loss and erratic behavior. The 55-year-old former New York Giants defensive lineman was a teammate of Don Hasselbeck, who pledged his brain to the foundation in 2010.

More than 1,800 former athletes and military veterans have pledged to donate their brains to the Concussion Legacy Foundation for CTE research. The progressive degenerative brain disease has been linked to repeated head trauma.

Matt Hasselbeck spent 10 seasons in Seattle, where he said he had a great relationship with team doctors and athletic trainers.

“We had a great relationship so I trusted them enough to tell them the truth,” he said. “That’s not the case on a lot of teams. Some players feel like if I tell the team doctor the truth about my head, about my injury, he’s gonna tell the GM and the GM’s gonna cut me. And that’s just the unfortunate thing that we’ve had to change in the NFL and I think we really have.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.