There was only one certainty in terms of the outcome when the Hasselbeck boys decided to go at it.
“My mom would always say that somebody would come up from the basement crying because he didn’t like the result of the game,” Tim Hasselbeck said. “We were very competitive … and we’d compete like crazy.”
Twenty years or so later, that competitiveness continues to burn in Matt Hasselbeck, three years the elder and clearly the more accomplished of the two in terms of their NFL careers.
His younger brother, who played for four teams in six seasons, sees it in any number of ways when he watches his brother both objectively in is current role as an ESPN studio analyst and passionately as a sibling who understands the demands of playing in the National Football League, based on first-hand experience as well as from watching their father, a tight end with four teams in the 1970s and ’80s.
No doubt, it was one of the things that caught the attention of the Tennessee Titans, who agreed to contract terms with Matt Hasselbeck on Wednesday. Rules created to accommodate an offseason abbreviated by the four-month lockout mean the 35-year-old (he’ll turn 36 in September) won’t officially join the Titans until Friday, the first day free agents can sign with new teams.
“I definitely think that he’s excited about it,” Tim Hasselbeck said. “I think it’s probably only human nature to feel some disappointment at not finishing your career in a place that you’ve established roots and things like that. With that being said, it’s never fun to be anywhere if you don’t feel people are behind you to be the guy.
“I know that Mike Munchak gave him a call. And when Matthew got off the phone with him I think Matthew was pretty excited about the opportunity.”
Most notable, in Tim’s opinion, is the fact that injuries have shortened several of Matt Hasselbeck’s 12 NFL seasons but they never have ended one. During the last 10 years in Seattle, which announced earlier in the week it had no intention to try and re-sign him, he played all 16 games just four times and as few as seven but never ended a season on injured reserve.
“I think the thing for him is — and I think you get this with a lot of guys, they have it in their minds that getting hurt and being out for the season is not an option,” Tim Hasselbeck said. “There’s probably a mental toughness that goes along with that and I think that’s kind of where Matthew is.”
Matt Hasselbeck is a three-time Pro Bowler who has thrown for more than 3,000 yards seven times in the last nine seasons and who has been to the playoffs six times in the past eight seasons. In comparison, the Titans have had seven 3,000-yard passers in the last 20 years and have reached the postseason four times in the past eight years.
Over the past three seasons, when Seattle has gone a combined 16-32 and endured two coaching changes, Hasselbeck had 34 touchdown passes and 44 interceptions in 35 games. His best season was 2005, when he threw 24 touchdown passes with nine interceptions and took the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl.
“One thing I’ve said to him a bunch is, ‘The exciting thing for you is that there’s going to be more talent,’” Tim Hasselbeck said. “People can say what they want about how he’s played but he has not been surrounded by very good talent the last three seasons. He hasn’t, whether it’s been on the offensive line or the skill positions.
“Now I think that’s changed. There’s obviously a very good offensive line in Tennessee, probably one of the best running backs in the game [Chris Johnson] and a good young, talented tight end that has a lot of potential [Jared Cook] and a wide receiver, Kenny Britt, that has a lot of potential and a lot of other guys. … He hasn’t played with guys like that in a long time.”
Through it all, his competitiveness never waned.
“I’ve always said this about Matthew: When he’s surrounded by good talent, you can win. It’s that simple,” Tim Hasselbeck said. “But he, like a lot of quarterbacks, you put him on a bad football team and it’s tough to be successful.
“… If you really boil it down with Matthew, he’s super-competitive, and that’s a big part of it.”