Selected in the sixth round of the 1998 draft, Matt Hasselbeck began his NFL career hoping to last at least 17 weeks. On Wednesday, Hasselbeck walked away from the game for good, having lasted 18 seasons.
The veteran quarterback announced his retirement and added that he would be joining ESPN as an NFL analyst on Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown, according to Allie Stoneberg of ESPN. He finishes his career with 36,638 passing yards and 212 touchdowns against 153 interceptions.
Stoneberg provided comments from Hasselbeck regarding the decision:
As a kid, playing in the NFL was always my dream and it turned out to be way more fun than I could’ve ever imagined. Throughout 18 incredible seasons, I had the chance to forge many relationships with teammates, coaches and staff that I will cherish forever. Those relationships made my playing career all the more memorable. With the support of my family, we’ve made the decision to embark on the next chapter. I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to have represented the NFL and so many great teams. ...
The exceptional opportunity presented to me by ESPN accelerated my decision to retire from playing football. I’m excited for the chance to give everything I have to this new endeavor and share the knowledge I have with our viewers.
Selected as a long-term backup to Brett Favre in Green Bay, Hasselbeck went on to play for the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. He spent the last three years as the primary backup to Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.
Haselbeck told the Dave Softy Mahler Show on 950AM KJR that he plans to sign a one day contract to retire as a Seahawk.
While the first two seasons of that agreement saw Hasselbeck throw just 56 passes in garbage time, Luck's injury issues in 2015 forced a massive increase in playing time. Hasselbeck appeared in eight games, throwing for 1,690 yards and nine touchdowns against five interceptions.
Even at age 40, Hasselbeck performed far better than most expected. Football Outsiders' metrics put him ahead of players like Luck, Marcus Mariota and Peyton Manning. Pro Football Focus ranked him ahead of Ryan Tannehill, Matthew Stafford and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
While his numbers were fine, Hasselbeck's 40-year-old body betrayed him throughout the season. He was listed on the injury report with injuries to his back, jaw, neck, ribs and shoulder. The Colts were forced to bring in Josh Freeman off the street to get a start in Week 17 after Hasselbeck's shoulder gave out. Head coach Chuck Pagano described him as "beat up from the feet up."
As it stands, Hasselbeck's body and his family played a large part in his decision to walk away. He finishes his career with three Pro Bowl selections and one NFC championship, which he earned during his time with the Seahawks.
Seattle will be the team most associate the quarterback with, as Hasselbeck and Mike Holmgren ran a consistently effective offense together for nearly a decade. From 2003-2007, the Seahawks made five straight playoff appearances and won four division crowns. Until their most recent run with Russell Wilson and Co., that was Seattle's longest period of sustained excellence.
While Hasselbeck was never an MVP candidate or even an All-Pro selection, his work is defined by its steadiness—down to his final NFL pass.