Matt Hasselbeck: Steve Hutchinson's Best Years Came with Seahawks
Last month, Seahawks legend Steve Hutchinson finally got the door knock he hoped for from Hall of Fame President David Baker, who delivered the news he would be part of the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
"Welcome to Canton, Ohio, brother," Baker said. "Thank you for all you've done for the game. You're going to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We're going to tell your story for the rest of time."
"I don't ever want to do this again," Hutchinson said.
Baker quickly replied," You never will."
Hutchinson's wife Landyn posted the video of their family receiving the news on her Instagram page.
According to Will Ragatz of Viking Maven, Hutchinson has received a phone call the last couple of years from Baker telling him that he didn't make the cut. Nevertheless, he will be enshrined in Canton in August, entering football immortality.
When Hutchinson spoke to the media after receiving the news, according to Mark Craig of the Star Tribune, he said, “I’m thinking, ‘I’m getting another late [rejection] call.' As soon as the knock happens, it’s hard to explain. It’s like a weighted vest is taken immediately off your shoulders. That last 10 minutes, it seemed like it was seven hours. It was crazy. I was getting all tight. Then you get the knock and... you start floating. And it’s like, ‘Is this real?’ We all just kind of broke down at once. It’s great. It’s indescribable.”
While players don't get enshrined wearing a uniform on their bust, should Hutchinson be best remembered for his time as a Seahawk?
Former teammate and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck thinks so, feeling he meant more to the Seahawks organization than the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings.
"I don't think - there's no doubt! His best years were as a Seahawk. I think he made a name for himself as a Seahawk," Hasselbeck said. "I know he meant more to the Seahawks organization than the other teams that he played for during his career. Steve was an absolute stud on the field, off the field, as well as a leader, tough guy, and helped us have a swagger that we didn't necessarily have [otherwise]."
Hasselbeck, who was traded to the Seahawks from the Packers in 2001, joined the team the same year Hutchinson was drafted. The duo played five years together, eventually leading the franchise to their first ever Super Bowl appearance in 2005.
During those five seasons, Hutchinson was named to the Pro Bowl three times and earned All-Pro honors three times, including two First-Team selections.
Starring together in Seattle, Hasselbeck remembers Hutchinson for his stellar play and "intelligence in the huddle." Unfortunately, he knows some fans still haven't let go of the guard's decision to leave for the Vikings prior to the 2016 season. Due to a poison pill provision in his offer sheet, the Seahawks couldn't match the deal to keep the transition-tagged star.
"Guards weren't getting paid these huge multi-year contracts," Hasselbeck commented. "And because of Steve Hutchinson and the terms that he agreed to with Minnesota, that all changed."
By signing a seven-year, $49 million mega-deal with Minnesota, Hutchinson set the market and truly changed trajectories for both franchises. Seattle made the playoffs the next two seasons with Hasselbeck under center, but didn't return to the Super Bowl before fading to the back of the NFC West in 2008 and 2009.
"Steve really changed the guard market when he left Seattle. We had just played in the Super Bowl and he is famous for the infamous poison pill in the contract that he signed. That poison pill changed the trajectory of our team in a lot of ways. It also kind of changed history in terms of the division in the building, and just losing such a great talent."
After joining the Vikings, Hutchinson earned three consecutive First-Team All-Pro selections from 2007 to 2009. His play declined a bit after that as he aged, but he helped open up running lanes for a 1,000-yard rusher in 11 of his 12 NFL seasons.
Since retiring eight years ago, the Seahawks and Hutchinson have made amends. The former star returned a few years ago to raise the 12th Man flag and recently was named a football consultant for the front office.
After waiting three years for the call, assuming Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions take place in August as scheduled, he's finally made it to Canton. And though he won't have a Seahawks uniform or logo on his bust, there's no question his time in the Pacific Northwest set the tone for one of the best careers by a guard in NFL history.