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The Top Ten Seahawks Stories That Weren't: #2: Matt Hasselbeck is 100 Percent

ESPN's Chris Mortenson [sic] reported this morning that Matt Hasselbeck has a bulging disc in his back. What Seahawks pr is telling us is this:

Matt does have a bulging disc that was revealed on the MRI that was taken when he initially injured the back. But the disc, we are told by Pr, is not the reason he missed the time in the preseason. That was because he was suffering from back spasms. He did receive an injection for that, we are told by pr, which calmed down the back. The bulging disc, pr tells us, is the result of wear and tear and age and is not affecting his ability to play. When we asked why this was not revealed before, pr told us that Matt is very protective of information regarding his health, though this does go against him saying that he is "100 percent." --Seahawks Insider

Seven supremely vexing starts later, Matt Hasselbeck is done.

Okay, that's overstatement. I don't really know Hasselbeck's future. I left my amateur-MD spurs with Marcus Tubbs. I do know that Matt Hasselbeck's career is a lot like Mark Brunell's career. Hasselbeck was drafted in the sixth round; Brunell in the fifth. Both started their career backing up Brett Favre. Both were traded to another team before ever starting. Hasselbeck has a 60.1% career completion percentage; Brunell has a 59.6% career completion percentage. Hasselbeck has a career 5.4 adjusted net yards per attempt; Brunell has a career 5.3 adjusted net yards per attempt. Hasselbeck has played behind top left tackle Walter Jones; Brunell played behind top left tackles Tony Boselli and Chris Samuels. Both were elected to the Pro Bowl three times. Both have had labrum surgery, though Hasselbeck to his non-throwing shoulder. Hasselbeck has averaged 11.7 games started over the last three seasons; Brunell averaged 11 games started his age 31-33 seasons. Hasselbeck has been injured; Brunell was benched.

It's hard to objectively evaluate a fan favorite, the best quarterback in the history of the franchise, so let's not. Let's instead evaluate retro-Mark Brunell. In his age 33 season, Brunell was benched in favor of Byron Leftwich. Brunell was then traded to the Redskins. He was awful in Washington, completed 49.8% of his passes, was benched after nine games and replaced by Patrick Ramsey. Ramsey flunked out the following season, was benched after a minor injury in week one and replaced by Brunell. Brunell would play much of the next two seasons and play reasonably well. The key was a system designed around short passes not unlike Seattle's passing attack of 2007. In 2007, Hasselbeck threw 48% of his passes short, 32% mid; In 2006, Brunell threw 54% of his passes short, 30% mid.

Brunell outplayed the first two rookies drafted to replace him. He didn't have their tools, but he could still find the open man. But the Redskins were never very good under Brunell, nor was their offense and nor really was Brunell. He was mediocre to above average in a limited offense. Eventually Washington replaced Brunell with Jason Campbell and if Campbell's yet a superstar, he's certainly a better quarterback than the aged Brunell. If Seattle attempts to replace Hasselbeck, it's realistic to think the rook they wager their future on won't outplay the once great vet. Six year runs like Hasselbeck had from 2002 to 2007 are rare and special. With a declining arm, shaky health, and two years left on his current contract, it's realistic to think Hasselbeck won't outplay himself either.