Seattle has seen many players come to town and make a lasting impact on the team, the fans, and the community – while making a permanent home in the hearts of the Seahawks faithful. There are far too many fan favorites to make this list make sense, but the top players in franchise history are nearly incontrovertible. What order they rank, however, is very much up for discussion.
At last, we are nearing the conclusion of the rankings of the greatest players to wear a Seattle Seahawks uniform.
If you missed any of the previous chapters in the countdown, here are numbers 25-6:
While previous chapters have included multiple players, the top five players in franchise history deserve more than just a portion among other names, so we will be unveiling the top five players ever to wear a Seattle uniform individually.
5. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (2001-2010)
If the worst thing you can say about Hasselbeck is that he was the second-best QB drafted in 1998, that’s pretty great since the top QB in that draft was Peyton Manning.
Hasselbeck finished his career 27th all-time in NFL passing yards, 23rd in completions, and 39th in wins and touchdowns. He was selected to the Seattle Ring of Honor in 2021 at the same time as head coach Mike Holmgren. Initially drafted by Green Bay in the 6th round in 1998, Hasselbeck began his career on the practice squad before becoming Brett Favre’s backup the next two seasons. Holmgren was traded to Seattle, and one of his first moves was to attempt to trade for Hasselbeck in 2000, but it didn’t happen. They were reunited in 2001 when the Packers sent him to Seattle in exchange for a third-round pick and swapping first-rounders. Seattle got their QB of the future and used Green Bay’s first-round pick to take guard Steve Hutchinson, so it would be difficult to say they didn’t win the trade by a landslide as Green Bay used their picks to draft two players that didn’t pan out.
Even though he never made an All-Pro team and only made the Pro Bowl three times, don’t Hassle the Beck with that nonsense. Matt hit his prime when the NFC was stocked with quality QBs, so he had to compete for votes to the Pro Bowl roster against Favre, Kurt Warner, Michael Vick, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Daunte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb, and Jeff Garcia among others.
Hasselbeck is 2nd in yards and completions in Seattle history and 3rd in touchdowns and wins. Only Russell Wilson or Dave Krieg hold higher marks than he does in the franchise record books. Injuries forced him to miss time throughout his career, but when he was healthy, few QBs made plays as he could. Perpetually willing to sacrifice his body for the sake of the team and the win, Matt was a fan favorite not just for what he could do with his right arm but the number of hits he was willing to take to extend plays. Holmgren wasn’t looking for a copy of Favre when he came to Seattle; if anything, he was looking for another Steve Young – and that’s what he got in Hasselbeck. A guy that could run a play perfectly if things went well and who was also mobile enough to turn a broken play into something positive when things went poorly – without taking unnecessary risks or giving the ball away.
In ten seasons with Seattle running an offense dedicated to establishing the run, he averaged 3000 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Hasselbeck won 69 regular season games, won five playoff games, led Seattle to five consecutive playoff berths, and five division titles overall. Not bad for a guy most people expected to have a career holding a clipboard for Favre. Before you scoff at his numbers, remember that Hasselbeck could have thrown more, but why do that when you can hand off to one of the best running backs of all time in Shaun Alexander, and you’re winning a lot of games with a balanced offense?
Hasselbeck’s best individual season came in 2005 when he threw for nearly 3500 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions as he led Seattle to a 13-3 record and their first trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history. Hasselbeck outperformed Ben Roethlisberger in the biggest game of his career, but questionable calls from the officials coupled with a tired defense eventually lost them the game, and he could not get the team beyond the divisional round of the playoffs after that. If Seattle had prevailed in 2005, it’s entirely possible Hasselbeck would have a better argument for being the greatest QB in Seattle history, but second on that list is nothing to be ashamed of. No one cares what order the Seattle mount Rushmore of QBs is selected in, just who’s on it. And Hasselbeck is certainly on it.
Before we move on, we’re going to exonerate Matt for what we believe to be blame that has been wrongfully placed on his shoulders. We believe him to be innocent, or at worst, a party to the incident, not the primary suspect.
Many fans remember Hasselbeck most for something that took place in a game early on in his career, in what was just his first start in the playoffs. If your team won the coin toss in overtime of a playoff game against the former team of your head coach and QB, and your QB said, “We want the ball, and we’re going to score,” you would be rightfully applauding them. Hasselbeck did exactly that in a January 2004 game in Green Bay. Some people might think the game-ending interception happened quickly, but it was actually the third drive of overtime with the teams trading punts on the first two possessions.
On third and 11 from his own 45, Hasselbeck dropped back. He had to get rid of the ball quickly as Green Bay sent seven rushers after him, including four linemen, both linebackers, and both safeties. Seattle had six blockers for Hasselbeck, and they each picked up one of the rushers, but that left safety Marques Anderson blitzing off the left side uncovered. He had to get rid of the ball fast, so he darted a pass to the sideline for Alex Banister. Green Bay cornerback Al Harris jumped in front of the pass, picking it off, and raced down the sideline for the game-sealing touchdown.
By the time Hasselbeck had taken two steps away from the center, this is a shot of what he was looking at just before that play fell apart:
And this is the play just a second later, with complete chaos unfolding:
And finally, here is a Zapruder film-inspired shot of the ball in the air and the position of the receiver and the defender before the interception.
Much of the blame gets thrown at Hasselbeck, and while there’s room to judge the pass and where it went (as well as locking on to one receiver, which is more than most veteran defenders need to make a critical play), there’s no reason the receiver couldn’t either make a better play on the ball or worst case, blatantly interfere with the defender and at least give the team another chance. The fact that Bannister doesn’t at least tackle Harris is most concerning. If Hasselbeck is to blame for this, then at least half the blame goes to Bannister. It was definitely a great play by Harris to jump the route and collect the ball before completely ruining Seattle’s season, but the film tells us that Bannister failed to get himself in position, didn’t turn into a defender once he saw he was out of position to make the catch, then didn’t end the play with a tackle before things went from bad to disastrous. Hasselbeck will be remembered for the quote, but he shouldn’t be remembered for losing the game. As they say, it takes two to tango, and Hasselbeck didn’t have much of a dance partner in this play from Bannister.
While he certainly has the career accolades to be considered for the NFL HOF, he may get overlooked as many of his career counterparts had similar success stories, and they will only honor so many of them. If you or someone you know believes that Hasselbeck has a case for Canton, any fan can nominate any player at any time by writing a letter to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame (2121 George Halas Drive NW, Canton, OH 44702).
Check out Hasselbeck’s career highlights here.