Hasselbeck Has His Issues All Ironed Out

Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck, above, says he learned a lot from two former teammates, both Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks -- Green Bay's Brett Favre (1997) and Baltimore's Trent Dilfer (2001).
Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck, above, says he learned a lot from two former teammates, both Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks -- Green Bay's Brett Favre (1997) and Baltimore's Trent Dilfer (2001). (By Harry How -- Getty Images)
By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 1, 2006

DETROIT, Jan. 31 -- The Super Bowl's infamously silly media day wasn't burdensome to Matt Hasselbeck. Quite the opposite, actually. As reporters crowded around his booth Tuesday at Ford Field, the quarterback lifted his cap to reveal his shiny dome and said all men with balding issues should root for him and his Seattle Seahawks teammates Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He eagerly traded on-camera quips with comedian Gilbert Gottfried and actor Tom Arnold when they showed up among the media members asking him questions, and he scolded an "Entertainment Tonight" correspondent because he'd seen the show identify Elisabeth Hasselbeck, one of the hosts of "The View" on ABC, as being married to him instead of brother Tim.

"There's a lot about us people don't know," Matt Hasselbeck said of the Seahawks. "Like, I'll start with our names."

Hasselbeck is not the golden boy quarterback this week. That distinction clearly belongs to his Steelers counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger. But Hasselbeck has emerged from a series of hard knocks to become a Pro Bowl quarterback on a Super Bowl team in his eighth season, and he is providing refreshing candor and genuine exuberance that have become rare at football's most visible position.

His teammates have come to adore him. "He's had his ups and downs," Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck said. "It's like a shirt. It's all wrinkled up, and then you put an iron on it, and it looks better. He's responded to it. He's fought through it all, getting booed all the time, and he's done a great job with the team this year."

Even this week, Hasselbeck is living down some of the times when his lack of diplomacy has gotten him into trouble. He still is being asked about the embarrassing moment in Green Bay during the NFC playoffs at the end of the 2003 season, when the referee's microphone picked up his pronouncement after the overtime coin flip that the Seahawks wanted the ball and would go down and score. They got the ball but didn't score, and Hasselbeck ended up throwing an interception later in the overtime that was returned for a touchdown by the Packers, ending the Seahawks' season.

Hasselbeck began his NFL career in Green Bay, and he said Tuesday he was doing some trash-talking to his friends on the Packers during that game, "just like when you're in your driveway playing basketball."

"Do I regret it? No," Hasselbeck said. "Do I wish we would have scored? Yeah."

Has he learned his lesson? Maybe not. When the Seahawks stopped by Qwest Field for a pep rally before traveling to Detroit on Sunday, Hasselbeck made what sounded to some like a Super Bowl guarantee, telling the crowd all the city lacked was a Super Bowl trophy.

"It's a pep rally, right?" Hasselbeck said. "You're trying to pep up the crowd. Those people were there since 4 in the morning. I felt I owed them something."

If Hasselbeck is trying to squeeze all he can out of this moment, who can blame him? His road to this point has been twisting. He grew up in a football family as the son of Don Hasselbeck, a tight end who played in the Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Raiders 22 years ago. Matt, 30, is about 2 1/2 years older than Tim, who is the backup quarterback for the New York Giants after a stint with the Washington Redskins. The brothers pushed and bloodied one another as kids.

"Whenever we were alone together, we competed to the point that usually someone would end up crying," Matt said. "Usually Tim."

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