After 10 years in Seattle, Matt Hasselbeck settling in with Titans
By Brady Henderson
Matt Hasselbeck’s time in Seattle was suddenly done after 10 seasons, officially ending with a phone call from coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to thank him for his service and inform him the Seahawks were moving on.
The reality didn’t quite set in then, but it didn’t take long.
“It happened so quick. It happened so quick. I think it actually hit me when I was driving 405 South,” Hasselbeck told “Brock and Salk” earlier this week, referring to the highway that runs adjacent to the Seahawks’ headquarters in Renton. “I could see that they were at training camp practice. I could see it. I think that’s when it really hit me.”
Hasselbeck — who built a resume with the Seahawks unmatched by any quarterback in franchise history — is now a Titan, in the first year of a three-year deal he signed in late July to be Tennessee’s starter until rookie Jake Locker is ready.
His next dose of reality came when he arrived at Titans’ headquarters as the team was beginning its training camp after a four and a half month lockout. Hasselbeck was given a playbook — one very different from those he was used to in Seattle — and not much time to learn it.
“So that was a splash of cold water in your face also, knowing that, ‘Hey, you’ve got to know this better than anyone in the building in like four days,'” he said. “So that was tough too. Moments like that where you realize, ‘Hey, this is for real.'”
New to Nashville
The deer, turkeys and possums in the yard outside Hasselbeck’s Nashville-area rental home didn’t bother him. The snakes he found inside the house were a little unsettling.
“We caught eight of them, actually. Eight snakes,” he said. “Nine, counting the one in the garage. We trapped them and let them go.”
Hasselbeck described it as a learning experience for him and his family. After all, they never had to deal with that much wildlife while living in suburban Seattle.
There are a few similarities Hasselbeck has noticed between the cities, specifically their football fans.
“The people here care very, very much about the history and tradition of the organization,” he said. “And the one thing that they cling to is coming up short in their Super Bowl. The Super Bowl that they had with the Rams, they were one yard away.
“I know what everyone in Seattle feels about our Super Bowl in 2006.”
Matt Hasselbeck, right, has bonded with rookie and former Husky Jake Locker, left. “He’s awesome, he’s fun to hang out with,” Hasselbeck said. (AP)
Off to a fast start
The Titans are 1-1 after beating the Ravens at home in Week 2. Hasselbeck has completed 67 percent of his passes over two games, averaging 310 yards. All three of his touchdown passes have gone to Kenny Britt, a 21-year-old wide receiver that Hasselbeck calls the most talented he’s ever thrown to.
Britt is so fast, Hasselbeck said, that his speed can sometimes throw off the timing of a route.
“It’s like, ‘Uh, I’ve never said this before, but Kenny, can you slow down on your route?'” Hasselbeck said. “It’s kinda funny. But it’s also a good problem to have.”
The Titans’ offensive line has kept Hasselbeck mostly upright, allowing just two sacks this season and none in Sunday’s win over Baltimore. Hasselbeck said center Eugene Amano communicates well — “Not quite as well as Robbie Tobeck. Still pretty good.” Protecting his blind side is Pro Bowler Michael Roos, who has more than his position in common with Seahawks great Walter Jones.
“The anchor of the offensive line is our left tackle,” Hasselbeck said. “No. 71, which, that right there just feels good to say.”
While Hasselbeck may be settling in, he knows the deal: Jake Locker, the ex-Husky and eighth overall pick in this year’s draft, will eventually take over the starting job. For now, Hasselbeck, who turns 36 on Sunday, is enjoying his time with Locker.
“He’s awesome, he’s fun to hang out with,” Hasselbeck said of Locker. “I think I actually enjoy his dad more than him, though. Me and Scott have been bonding. He’s a good dude. Maybe it’s because we’re closer in age.”
Ex-teammates, 12th Man on his mind
Between mentoring Locker, adjusting to a new city and trying to master a playbook that weeks ago was altogether foreign, Hasselbeck has plenty on his plate.
“I’m swimming here,” he said.
He’s found time, though, to keep in touch with a few of his former teammates in Seattle. He sent a text message to one player after the Seahawks fell to 0-2 with their loss to Pittsburgh, offering words of encouragement and a reminder that a win on Sunday over the Cardinals — a team they beat twice last year — could change the outlook of the season.
Does he have a message for Seahawks fans?
“I’ve said — and I’m a broken record — but I’ve said time and time again, just the support and just the energy that the 12th Man brought to us in Seattle was absolutely amazing our whole time there,” he said. “…There’s just so much pride [with] people in the Pacific Northwest. It’s genuine. It’s real. I’ve lived all around the country, grew up in different places. But there’s just something really special about that town and that area and those people.
“So, I don’t know. It’s hard to put into words.”
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