A funny story about me and Matt Hasselbeck:
Sorry for those of you who are looking for a golf blog. I figured with the upcoming Superbowl, this story would be appropriate. Also, I apologize for the length, I just couldn’t bring myself to cut anything out.
When I was just a young lad dreaming of being the next Dan Marino, I envied his tan, his passing ability, and the love that the entire state of Florida gave him. He had the stature of a Greek god in my adolescent eyes. I imagined coming from behind passing to Mark Duper and Mark Clayton in my pretend world of a two-minute drill. I assure you, I was always successful in my comebacks.
Looking back, I remember the smell of the damp grass, the crispness of the air, and continually whipping my nose with the cuff of my hooded Miami Dolphin sweatshirt. If I run into some of my boyhood friends they still jokingly call me Dolphin boy.
Growing up, I’m 27 now, the only thing I miss is that innocence and imagination. I think nostalgia is a wonderful, freeing thing, but the past is the past right? This past summer I got suckered, so I thought at the time, into helping out at Matt Hasselbeck’s football camp. It was sponsored by Qwest at Qwest field in Seattle. In my eyes it was too early in the morning and I was going to be relegated to standing around with my thumb planted firmly in my backside for an entire day. To say the least, I was not entirely excited. It was not the fact that it was a Hasselbeck football camp because he has become my favorite player, but I figured my job was going to be handing out hotdogs at lunch or some other monotonous job. Little did I know…
The coach at our high school (I teach in the Seattle area), who had asked me to come, was friends with everyone at the camp. I am not going to fill this blog name dropping, but the camp was filled with past Pro-bowlers and present Seahawk studs. This was all fine and dandy, and my one connection was introducing me to all these Huge names. I looked at it as a pleasant surprise. Cool, I get to meet NFL players.
The camp hadn’t started yet, but I was shaking hands with people I had seen only on television for the past several years. We were all ushered onto the field for introductions. I didn’t realize it was the introductions because I was shaking hands with Bobby Engram and just followed the crowd I was in. They lined us up in front of about seven hundred people. I was not supposed to be in the line-up, but I was too embarrassed to walk out. In the introductions, they were giving names and telling a brief history of each person. I was standing between Bobby Engram and Matt Hasselbecks dad, the former Patriot. The line-up included Hall of Famers, guys with two and three Superbowl rings, Pro-bowlers, and me, a former High School football player. A nobody! I was just praying the announcer remembered my name from the brief “Hi, how are ya?” we had. He did, thank goodness, minimizing my embarrassment for stumbling into this line-up.
As the camp began, I hung out on the outskirts of what was going on trying to appear that I belonged there. It wasn’t a face saving act; I just didn’t know what else to do with myself. In the very first drill Matt Hasselbeck started, he called me by name. “Dave, I want you to run an out and up.” He added the reasoning for the kids, but all I could think about was the fact he chose me and remembered my name. I was playing catch with Matt Hasselbeck. Instantly, I felt like a little kid again. I pretended different, but I was as giddy as a school girl on prom night.
The camp moved on and I ended up participating heavily in passing drills. With one of Matt’s little brothers, we threw to high school crossing the middle of the field. I was having a blast, but the best was yet to come.
During lunch all the kids and most of the camp “coaches” left the field and went into a lunch room. I wasn’t hungry so I went around picking up stray footballs to set up for the second half of the camp. Matt Hasselbeck and his little brother who plays college football somewhere in Boston as a quarterback were having a brotherly competition. They were trying to hit a small cone about 35-40 yards down the field. Jerheme Urban, a lesser known Seahawk wideout, was shagging balls and tossing them back to the two. After several close throws, Hasselbeck calls my name again. I am 10 yards away minding my own business and he calls, “Dave, come on, give this a shot.”
He flips me a ball as I walk up to join the fun. I stepped into the throw, giving my best Dan Marino impression. Watching them miss the cone by inches on several attempts, I had no misconceptions that I might hit is on my first throw. Really, it was kind of a blur. Tunnel vision took over and I don’t remember the ball in the air. When the ball came into focus, I realize it had a chance. It connected, flipped up three feet in the air, and fell victoriously to the ground. I couldn’t stop myself; my hands flew up in the air mimicking the signal a football referee gives for a touchdown. Both Matt and his brother gave up a collective OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I played if off humbly, knowing that it was a fluke they hadn’t, themselves, already hit the cone. Once again, I was giddy!
The rest of the camp was fun. Matt and the rest of the “coaches” of the camp treated me as one of their own. A part of me wanted to ask them if they wanted to go get a beer, but I didn’t want to push it. I didn’t ask for an autograph from anyone. Maybe I should have, but the memory of that day is better than any signed baseball cap. For one day, I felt like a kid again.
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Every beer will make the story better. matter of fact, I think it was a 60 yard toss.
Nice to see that, at the end of the day, you did not want to push things suggesting to go for a beer, and you did not ask for an autograph. I guess you will really remember the day as a perfect one.
Thanks for writing this article.
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