Matt Hasselbeck a man in motion in Tennessee
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is "kind of like a rookie" as he adjusts to a new town and new team after 10 years with the Seahawks.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Matt Hasselbeck had a hard time leaving Seattle.
The trouble had nothing to do with his 10 years as a Seahawk, though that didn't make it any easier.
His difficulties going to Tennessee were of a quite literal variety. His flight was delayed in Salt Lake City and he was rerouted to Phoenix, where he ended up spending the night before arriving on Friday, the day he signed a three-year contract with the Titans.
"I thought I was going to have a day to kind of get some things in order," Hasselbeck said in a telephone interview.
He landed Friday, looking for the limo driver with a code name the team had arranged. A man in a blue shirt came up and started talking to him. Hasselbeck thought it was his driver. At least, until he saw a uniformed limo driver holding a placard with his code name. It was only then Hasselbeck realized he was five minutes deep in an interview with a reporter.
"It was a 'Spies Like Us' kind of moment," Hasselbeck said.
Although the transition may not have been seamless, Hasselbeck is a Titan now, and Thursday he will practice with his new team for the first time. That's the hope, anyway. The plan for newly signed players to begin practicing on Thursday depends on the new collective-bargaining agreement being ratified, something the NFL and players union were still working on Wednesday night.
Hasselbeck hasn't been able to relax the past week, however. He has playbooks to learn. Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer has more than one.
"There's nothing abridged about what we're doing," Hasselbeck said.
Everything has accelerated in this unprecedented NFL offseason, and that includes the adjustment period for players with new teams.
Only nine days have passed since Hasselbeck, who will be 36 next month, was informed the Seahawks would go a different direction at quarterback. In a normal year, there would be time to digest that news slowly.
Instead, Hasselbeck was off to Nashville without getting a chance to really say goodbye. The Seahawks took out a half-page newspaper ad on Sunday, thanking Hasselbeck, his wife Sarah and their children Annabelle, Mallory and Henry for their contributions to the community. Hasselbeck said he appreciated the gesture.
During his trip east, he wrote a letter summarizing his feelings to the man who shared so many of his experiences — both the successes and failures — during Hasselbeck's decade with the team.
That's how Hasselbeck wound up emailing Seahawks owner Paul Allen for the first time. He got a response, too.
"It was a little bit of closure," he said.
The time for misty-eyed reminiscing ended about the time his plane touched down in Tennessee. Thoughts about the past decade in Seattle were replaced by the reality that his first regular season with the Titans was little more than a month away.
"When I got here, I just got a bucket of water thrown in my face," he said.
He's one of four quarterbacks in the Titans' training camp, a group that includes another Northwest transplant, former University of Washington QB Jake Locker. The four of them share one vehicle, a truck (this is Tennessee after all). Locker and Hasselbeck are most often in the back while Rusty Smith drives and Bret Ratliff rides shotgun.
A year ago, Hasselbeck was the longest-tenured Seahawk, someone playing for his third head coach under his fourth general manager. Now, he's starting over, riding to practice in the back of a truck, trying to adjust to a new team and a new town.
"I'm kind of like a rookie," Hasselbeck said.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
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