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Matt Hasselbeck Proud to Enter Seahawks Ring of Honor Alongside Mentor Mike Holmgren

While Holmgren made life difficult on Hasselbeck during his first few seasons in Seattle, the quarterback/coach pairing achieved legendary status in Seahawks history by guiding the franchise to unprecedented heights in the mid-2000s. Now, over the next two weeks, they will rightfully have their names forever immortalized in the team's Ring of Honor.

RENTON, WA - Set to become the 13th member of the franchise's illustrious Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony on Monday Night Football next week, former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's journey to getting his No. 8 hung up in the rafters wasn't always smooth sailing.

Originally arriving in the Pacific Northwest after being acquired from the Packers in exchange for a first and third-round pick in 2001, Hasselbeck was anointed as Seattle's next franchise quarterback reuniting with coach Mike Holmgren, who played a part in drafting him in the sixth round out of Boston College in 1998. But two decades later, he admits he received a rude awakening once he stepped onto the field with his new team for the first time.

“I probably thought too much was possible, if I’m being critical of myself," Hasselbeck said of his expectations coming to Seattle. "I got to Green Bay and they were coming off of their second consecutive Super Bowl. Brett Favre had his third consecutive MVP, I think it was. It was the same offense. I had played really well in the preseason, and I thought oh the preseason is exactly the same as the regular season. Well, that just wasn’t how it was."

Although he was no longer in Favre's shadow, Hasselbeck's career with the Seahawks got off to a rocky start. Unlike his time with the Packers where he felt like a bystander while Favre received the majority of the attention from Holmgren, with him now being the expected starter, he couldn't coast anymore and quickly found out he had much to learn about playing the position at a high level in the NFL.

"When I came to Seattle, it was two years away that I got to come to Seattle and be coached by Mike," Hasselbeck said. "I learned firsthand of what I saw, how hard it is to be coached by him. The standard that he set was so high and such a challenge that when you get to gameday, the opponent isn’t really the toughest part of your week. The toughest part of your week is the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday practice with Mike Holmgren when the football is literally not allowed to touch the ground."

Named a Week 1 starter, Hasselbeck threw a pair of interceptions in his team debut and Holmgren sent him to the bench in favor of Trent Dilfer after just three games, only to turn back to him as the starter in Week 7 against the Dolphins. He threw his first two touchdowns during that game, but was benched again towards the end of the season due to prolonged struggles and injuries.

Bouncing in and out of the lineup during his first two seasons in Seattle, Hasselbeck often frustrated Holmgren by trying to do too much under center and getting in trouble by improvising too frequently. At that stage, the young signal caller was still trying to earn the trust of his teammates, quarterback coach Jim Zorn, and Holmgren, the long-time quarterback whisperer who had coached the likes of Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Favre.

"There were some things I needed to learn and some humbling that probably needed to happen. Learning to be a lot more coachable needed to happen," Hasselbeck reflected. "Through the process of some tough times dealing with some injuries, dealing with getting demoted for Trent Dilfer, getting coached really hard by Jim Zorn, I feel like I grew but it wasn’t smooth and it wasn’t easy. That’s kind of how it started."

After losing his job to Dilfer once again early in the 2002 season, the door re-opened for Hasselbeck to take over again when his veteran counterpart suffered a year-ending torn Achilles tendon. This time, without the veteran looking over his shoulder, he finished the season on a strong note, leading the Seahawks to three consecutive victories to close out the season and finishing with 15 touchdown passes.

From there, everything started to click for Hasselbeck, who helped transform the Seahawks from a national afterthought into one of the most respected organizations in the league. Busting out in 2003, he made his first Pro Bowl squad while throwing a career-best 26 touchdown passes and leading the team to a 10-6 record and a wild card berth.

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Then in 2004, despite missing a pair of games with an injury, Hasselbeck led Seattle back to the postseason, this time as NFC West champions. Unfortunately, the team couldn't break through in the playoffs, losing in the wild card round for a second consecutive season in a 27-20 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Everything changed for Hasselbeck and the franchise in 2005, however. Loaded with talent on both sides of the football, including star running back Shaun Alexander,  future Hall of Fame offensive linemen Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson, and rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu, Seattle won 13 regular season games for the first time ever, clinching the NFC's top seed. From there, Holmgren's team blew out Washington and Carolina to punch a ticket to the Super Bowl for the first time.

"He was sort of that other guy on defense that really galvanized us, and we believed on defense really for the first time," Hasselbeck recalled. "I think we truly, truly believed on offense for the first time too. At that moment, it felt like we could really do anything. We just had to then actually go do it, which made losing in the Super Bowl that much harder. We knew we were capable of it, we just didn’t get it done.”

Though they came up short, the journey to the big game proved to be a foundational building block for future success for the Seahawks. They made the playoffs each of the next two seasons, advancing to the divisional round both times, and finally made it back in 2010 in what wound up being Hasselbeck's final season with the team. Before exiting stage left after the season, he orchestrated one of the finest performances of his career in what became known as the "Beast Quake" game, throwing four touchdown passes to upset the defending champion Saints in the wild card round.

“That was a great year. People ask me what year are you most proud of in your career, I usually tell them that 2010 season," Hasselbeck said. "That was such a challenge, and to finish strong the way that we did, to host that playoff game, to win it was just an incredible feeling. Our crowd was so huge in that game.

Since then, coach Pete Carroll has led Seattle to the postseason in eight of the past 10 seasons and the franchise captured its first Super Bowl title in 2013. Hasselbeck went on to play five more seasons in Tennessee and Indianapolis, keeping a close eye on his former team as they emerged as a perennial title threat.

By the time he hung up his cleats after the 2015 season, Hasselbeck had made three Pro Bowls and thrown for 36,638 yards and 212 touchdowns, tied for 38th all-time with Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw. The majority of that production came in 10 seasons with the Seahawks, where he briefly held the franchise record for passing yards before Russell Wilson surpassed the mark in 2020.

Looking back on his career, Hasselbeck knows none of his accomplishments would have been possible without the support of teammates and coaches and doesn't view his induction into the Ring of Honor as an "individual award." Instead, he views his jersey number being vaulted into the rafters as a symbol to everyone who contributed to Seattle's success during his time with the team.

Most notably, Hasselbeck couldn't be more thankful to enter the esteemed Ring of Honor during the same year as Holmgren, the coach who drafted him and then took a chance on him again after going to Seattle, ultimately developing him into one of the best quarterbacks in Seahawks history.

Together, while there were times where it didn't look like the partnership would work, the two emerged as pillars for what has turned into nearly 20 years of sustained prominence for the franchise. Now, the renowned quarterback/coach duo will be forever immortalized in the stands at Lumen Field, a commemoration to two remarkable careers that will never be forgotten.

"It meant a lot and to go through that journey with him where it wasn’t always easy, but we weathered the storms, stayed the course, and bought into his message, and we were able to do some special things and set a foundation for future success. The fact that he’s going in and I’m going in the same year where I know that could have easily been some other combination of some players and coaches. I’m very grateful.”