Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

Relationships are a fickle thing. One moment you’re convinced you’re in love. The next, you’re wondering where everything went wrong.

Breakups are never easy, of course. That goes without saying. You can’t leave a piece of your life behind without taking a minute to reflect on a shared past, however good or bad it may be.

Eventually, though, you recover. Your heart heals and your brain puts everything into perspective once again. You look back on that snapshot of your existence and start to sum it up in words instead of anguish. There’s a sense of closure, a matter-of-fact approach to what was once a firestorm of emotion.

And then you move on, wiser and prepared for whatever tomorrow brings.

This is where we are as Seattle sports fans, one day after it was revealed that Matt Hasselbeck, the face of the franchise for the past decade, would no longer be a Seahawk.

There is sadness, anger, bitterness, frustration.

Likewise, there is happiness, jubilation, excitement.

There is by no consensus opinion on the departure of No. 8. For every two people upset that Hasselbeck is leaving, there is one individual glad to see he’s on his way out of town.

That does not change what he meant to this city, however. For that, there can be no argument.

Hasselbeck was a leader, both on and off the field. Fans and players alike adored him, and the feeling was mutual. He established numerous franchise records at the quarterback position. He is the only man to guide this team to a Super Bowl from under center.

But for everything he was to this town and us, as fans, he wasn’t the one. In every relationship we forge, we search for the one. Matt Hasselbeck was not that.

Matt Hasselbeck was the girl you convince yourself you love in spite of never quite being sure. The girl you like. The girl you enjoy being around. The girl who you could see yourself marrying. But the girl you don’t love at all costs.

She’s a friend. A confidant. The Betty to your Veronica. In a romantic comedy, she’d probably win. But in reality? Well, reality has a way of being harsh sometimes.

Matt Hasselbeck was the consummate friend. He did everything right. Our time spent with him was good. Not great, but good. We had fun while it lasted. Things weren’t amazing, but they certainly weren’t horrible.

We won a few playoff games, enjoyed a few laughs. We were by no means Tom Brady and the Patriots, but we certainly weren’t JaMarcus Russell and the Raiders, either. It was a run that had to come to its end sometime or another.

The thing is, Matt Hasselbeck was a good guy and a decent quarterback, but his time was up. I know. It sounds horrible. And like any breakup, it kind of is horrible. It hurts, but it’s reality.

Proponents of continuing the relationship made their cases loud and clear. Provided he was healthy, Hasselbeck gave the Seahawks the best chance to contend in 2011. He had a solid understanding of the offense, they argued, and behind a good offensive line, he could flourish.

Unfortunately, all the caveats of a perfect Matt Hasselbeck have been overshadowed by the truths of the current makeup of the organization.

The offensive line isn’t that good (yet). Putting a less-than-mobile 36-year-old behind a fragile wall would certainly be a risk.

The likelihood of Hasselbeck staying healthy and playing a full slate of 16 games is slim. He hasn’t done that since 2007.

And finally there’s the offense, which was tailored to acquiesce No. 8 rather than allow him to thrive. Pete Carroll favors the deep ball in greater abundance than Hasselbeck could ever provide. The organization would prefer a power arm. Hasselbeck has never been that guy.

There’s no telling whether Hasselbeck’s replacement will be the one. Right now, fans don’t seem to think so. But fans had the same misgivings about Hasselbeck when he first sported the Seahawk blue. And that turned out much better than expected.

The fact is, both parties have a good chance to be better off without the other.

Hasselbeck can join a team more prepared to win now. He can sit behind a more robust line and fling passes without having to worry if his next seven-step drop will be his last. He can take a run at a Lombardi Trophy in the twilight of his career.

And on the flip side, the Seahawks can truly devote themselves to a ground-up rebuilding effort.

Pete Carroll and John Schneider can hitch their wagon to their guy, for better or worse. They can do what they really want to do instead of handcuffing themselves to a holdover signal-caller from the days of yore. They can win on their own terms. They can lose on their own terms. They can show fans that they’re either the right pair for the job or the wrong one. We have questions. By letting Carroll and Schneider go about their business on their own, we’ll get legitimate answers.

For now, though, we reminisce.

It wasn’t perfect, this relationship, but we made it work. We won’t be getting married. We won’t be getting back together. It’s time to understand that and move on.

We’ll say goodbye and take a minute to get over the heartache. At the very least, we can still be friends. Right?

2 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend”

  1. Yup – I hope Matt trains up Jake and he finishes his career with a winning record. I have a hunch that when he is done playing football he’ll end up back in the Northwest anyway. Good luck Matt, but it was time to go.

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