Hasselbeck’s heroic return

Just 21 days removed from sustaining fractured ribs, Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck risked further physical damage to help his team snap a three-game skid in Sunday’s 41-0 win over Jacksonville.

“On Monday, after receiving both acupuncture and a massage, I was in so much pain I couldn’t even move,’ Hasselbeck told me when I spoke with him two days before his return to action. “I just worry about having enough juice on the ball when I throw it.”

Hasselbeck had more than enough juice to torch the Jaguars’ secondary for four touchdowns. He cared enough about his team to offer himself as a sacrifice in order to provide the spark his team desperately needed.

With a half-dozen starters out due to injury, Hasselbeck ignored the advice of those he respects in order to play anyway.

“I spoke with Donovan McNabb and Warren Moon, who both said that I was crazy,” said Hasselbeck. “Even my brother, Tim, was on SportsCenter telling everyone that I was going to play, so after taking 60 percent of the snaps away from Seneca [Wallace] in practice, I felt it was my responsibility to come out and play.”

Maybe Hasselbeck had done enough homework to realize that Jacksonville arrived in Seattle with the fewest sacks (three) of any team in the league. He also had to be aware that the Jaguars’ secondary ranked near the bottom of the league in pass defense. Having wide receivers like T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson and Deion Branch had to offer encouragement for the Seahawks’ passing attack.

Even with playmakers who were poised to have a big day, Hasselbeck still had to summon the courage to perform despite being less than 100 percent. He knew ignoring a painful injury would require more heart than anything else.

For three hours on Sunday, Hasselbeck proved that toughness in quarterbacks is very underrated. The value of his inspirational performance to his team cannot be overlooked.

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