(Hasselbeck, woozy even after checking email with a helmet on)
President George W. Bush received a Seahawks #43 jersey from Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Strong during a visit to Bellevue, WA last month. According to the Post-Intelligencer’s Jim Moore, the balding QB is still reeling from the public reaction.
At the time, Hasselbeck called it a thrill and said it was a win-win, this opportunity to meet the president and get out of a team meeting.But as soon as he saw the picture of the two players with Bush, Gary Wright, the team’s vice president of administration, said he was concerned about negative reaction.
Maybe in really red Republican states, it would not have been a big deal. But Washington is a blue state, and deep, deep Democratic blue in King County. So objections were raised, and Hasselbeck heard them and read them. He got nasty voice mails, e-mails and text messages.
“I had no idea,” Hasselbeck said.
One guy told him: “I hate you, I’ll never wear your jersey, I’ll never like the Seahawks again.”
“Huh?” Hasselbeck thought. “Seriously?”
“Politics can be very mean and dirty,” he said. “The things politicians say about each other, and what activists say, I had a brief glimpse of that for a couple of days.
“If I ever had any questions about whether I wanted to run for office, I now know the answer — I don’t.”
As a quarterback, he’s used to getting booed. “But this was a whole new level,” he said. “I was very surprised how mean (they were).”
Strong and Hasselbeck said they would have welcomed a Democratic president, too, and noted that they once visited Gov. Christine Gregoire in Olympia and gave her an autographed football. When he played in Green Bay, Hasselbeck also met former Vice President Al Gore.
Hasselbeck voted twice for Bush but said he’s not necessarily a staunch Republican, and Strong admitted to “definitely leaning on the side of conservative views on a lot of things.”
Asked how he felt about the Bush presidency, Hasselbeck said: “I caused such a ruckus holding up a jersey. I’m not educated enough to have a public statement about that. People want to hear educated opinions.”