This post probably carried more weight a couple weeks ago following the Seahawks win over St. Louis, when Charlie Whitehurtst was trending well in Seattle, and Matt Hasselbeck was not. The same Charlie who completed one pass that traveled more than 10 yards. But anyways, onto my point: Matt Hasselbeck, the greatest quarterback in franchise history, seems to be a polarizing name in Seattle. Most agree he is a great guy and all, but for whatever reason, a lot of people aren’t fans of him. This is a perplexing topic and a major pet peeve of mine. I realize this sort of thing happens in other cities (i.e. Donovan McNabb), but for as few championships as Seattle has seen, you’d think Matt and the few stars we have would be well loved. Some are and some aren’t, but I am particularly curious why Matt is not unanimously loved like an Edgar Martinez or Steve Largent.
My two all time favorite athletes are Gary Payton and Matt Hasselbeck. My reasoning is simple. Twice in my lifetime have I seen a Seattle professional franchise reach the championship. In 1996, Payton (and Kemp) led the Sonics, and in 2005, Hasselbeck led the Hawks. Payton is a well liked name in Seattle, and you won’t find many fans who disliked him. But Hasselbeck, despite his 5 playoff wins, witty humor, and general likeability, still has plenty of haters.
I had multiple sports debates surrounding Matt Hasselbeck this year. Like I mentioned, he is up there with Gary Payton as my all time favorite athlete, so of course I am biased towards defending him. Even so, I couldn’t believe the amount of ignorant fans calling for Charlie Whitehurst, and booing Matt Hasselbeck this season. This guy took us to a Super Bowl. He’s played in 3 pro bowls, and he is the greatest quarterback in franchise history! I know that it’s about “what have you done for me lately,” and sports are results driven. Fans aren’t remembering 2005 when they boo Matt, I get that, and I was frustrated as any fan watching Matt committ 13 turnovers during a 4 game stretch this year. But all you need are a good pair of eyes and a 1/2 functioning brain to see that Matt still gave us the best chance to win.
This past season, Ken Griffey Jr, despite all his past greatness, reached a point where he was not helping the team. Lots of fans, including me, felt that his everyday DH role should be taken, but I didn’t hear many fans booing him or trashing him on sports radio. In this circumstance, fans treated Griffey well until the very end. I wish the same could be said for Hasselbeck and some of our other stars. I’ve seen this star treatment, or lack thereof, play out numerous times. Shaun Alexander, Ichiro, Jake Locker, and Mike Holmgren to name a few. They are all Seattle sports legends that have given this city plenty to cheer about. Alexander and Ichiro each won an MVP in Seattle. Locker committed 5 years of his life to re-build a university that he owed nothing to. Holmgren coached the Super Bowl team, and led the Seahawks to 5 division titles and 6 playoff appearances in 10 years. Fans should love players and coaches like this. They all deserve statues in my opinion. And yet, plenty of “fans” criticize these icons, even dislike them.
My point is this. If you must boo, then direct it towards Richie Sexson, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Carlos Silva, or the whole team’s performance. Trash them in the chat forums and on the radio if that’s your thing. But respect the guys who have worn Seattle on their jersey for many years, played in all star games, and taken our teams to championship games. We are on the map because of these guys, and frankly, we don’t have a lot of them, so please, embrace the few icons that we do have–guys like Matt Hasselbeck.