- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2003

Tim and Matt Hasselbeck are trying not to make a big deal out of this. After all, the brothers have played in the same NFL game before. Last December, Matt started at quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, while Tim was the Philadelphia Eagles’ holder.

The Hasselbecks have not, however, met as opposing quarterbacks before. That could change tomorrow, when Matt’s Seahawks face Tim’s Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.

In fact, no set of brothers has played quarterback in the same NFL game, leaving the Hasselbecks in an exciting situation.

“It’s going to be tough,” Matt said. “On one hand, I love my brother, and I want him to do well. But I have a job to do this weekend, and that’s to help the Seahawks beat the Redskins.”

Perhaps it’s best then that the Hasselbecks won’t have much time to see each other beforehand. With team meetings, walk-throughs and mandatory curfews, the two may not get face-to-face until Sunday morning at the stadium.

They do plan to take a pregame photo for posterity, Matt in his No.8 Seahawks jersey, Tim in his No.8 Redskins jersey. But after that, it’s down to business.

“It’s tough,” Tim said. “I’ll probably just go over to the stadium a little earlier than I usually do, and we’ll go out [on the field] and talk a little. And then I’ll let him put his game face on, I’ll put mine on, and then we’ll talk after the game.”

The Hasselbecks have been preparing for this day since Tim signed with the Redskins on Oct.22 to back up starter Patrick Ramsey. They knew the Seahawks would be coming to Washington, and they knew Matt would be Seattle’s starting quarterback. The question then became whether Tim would get into the game.

If recent history is any indicator, there’s a good chance.

Ramsey has taken a pounding during the Redskins’ four-game losing streak and has been unable to finish any of the last three. Rob Johnson relieved him the first two times but then was released, creating an opening for Tim, who had never thrown an NFL pass.

He finally got his opportunity last Sunday when he entered for Ramsey in the second half and completed two of three for 20 yards against the Dallas Cowboys, convincing coach Steve Spurrier to keep him on as his No.2 quarterback for the foreseeable future.

“He’s coming around nicely,” Spurrier said. “He feels pretty comfortable with just about all of the offense now. … He’s certainly a young man who’s fun to coach. He listens well, he’s picked it up very quickly, he’s a very smart young man, has a wonderful attitude. And he’s a good passer. He throws a nice spiral. So who knows? He’s one hit away [from becoming the No.[ThSp]1 guy].”

Though they share nearly identical prior football careers — both starred at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, Mass., and played at Boston College — the Hasselbecks’ pro careers have differed significantly.

Matt was drafted by Green Bay in the sixth round of 1998, followed coach Mike Holmgren to Seattle and has started 30 games the last 2 seasons.

Tim, at 25 three years younger, has had a much rougher path through the NFL. He went undrafted in 2001, signed with Buffalo and was released, signed with Baltimore and was released and spent time last year in Carolina, Philadelphia and NFL Europe before catching on with the Redskins.

Through it all, Tim’s biggest supporter has been his older brother and vice versa.

“I think he’s meant more to my career than I’ve probably meant to his,” Matt said. “He’s been there for me with advice when I was struggling here in Seattle and even when things have been going well. He’s a really smart football player and has a lot of knowledge. He’s my younger brother, but he has a real veteran presence about him. I would say in some circumstances, it’s almost like he’s my older brother.”

The Hasselbecks are a football family. Father Don was a tight end for nine years with the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. Younger brother Nathanael is a safety and punt returner at Boston College. Even mom Betsy has a football background; five of her seven brothers played quarterback.

“People ask me what it was like to have a father who played in the NFL, and really I don’t know any different,” Tim said. “That’s just how it was for us growing up. And we were friends with kids whose dads were NFL football players because that’s who my parents were friends with. I don’t know what it would be like to not have football as a huge part of my life.”

Given all that, it’s not surprising that Tim isn’t the most famous member of his family. In fact, he’s not even the most famous member of his own household. His wife, Elisabeth, was a popular contestant on the second season of “Survivor,” currently is host of a fashion show on the E! network and is a finalist to become a regular on ABC’s “The View.”

A breakthrough football game finally might earn Tim some recognition of his own, but he has become grounded enough to realize it may not happen.

“I’ve been on five teams, and I’ve been cut a bunch,” he said. “The first time, it hurt my feelings. After that, you kind of start to realize this is just the nature of the beast and this is how it’s going to be.”

And so Tim has come to appreciate the little things, such as the opportunity to be in the same NFL stadium as his brother. Given the uncertainty of his future, he knows he may not get many more chances.

And more importantly, he may not get another potential chance to beat his big brother.

“Usually, I want him to do really well,” Tim said. “But we need a win really bad here. So if he turns it over a couple of times this week, that’s fine with me.”


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