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Originally published December 24, 2009 at 10:00 PM | Page modified December 25, 2009 at 9:55 PM

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Matt Hasselbeck back in Green Bay, where it all began

The Seahawks quarterback is 73 yards away from becoming the franchise's all-time leader in passing after being traded from Green Bay in 2001

Seattle Times staff reporter

Matt Hasselbeck returns this week to the place where his career started, as a sixth-round afterthought.

When Seattle traded for Hasselbeck in 2001, he had all of 154 yards career passing and not a single start in the NFL. He was a fourth-year quarterback who was about to be a father for the first time and he was given the keys to Seattle's offense — the hand-picked triggerman by no less a quarterback authority than Mike Holmgren.

He returns Sunday to where his career started. Again. This will be the seventh time he has returned to Lambeau Field with the Seahawks if you count playoff and exhibition games.

This time, he returns 73 yards away from breaking Dave Krieg's franchise record for career passing yards, which shows just how far Hasselbeck has come since the Seahawks gave up a third-round pick and swapped first-round choices with the Packers to acquire him.

"I can just remember when I first got here," Hasselbeck said of his arrival in Seattle. "Reading through the game-day program or whatever, and just seeing the names on the list, and seeing how far away I was from getting there, and just imagining maybe, possibly, having an opportunity to just climb up the list."

He has come a long way in his nine seasons as a Seahawk. How much farther can he go?

It will be the single largest question facing whoever is hired to run the football operations of this franchise. In eight years, Hasselbeck has lasted through the tenure of three different general managers: Holmgren, Bob Ferguson and Tim Ruskell.

He is 34, which is not old when you're talking quarterbacks. He has also played through a litany of injuries. Any decision will be an act of faith. A belief. A commitment.

Just three weeks ago, Hasselbeck completed 11 of 12 passes in the fourth quarter of a victory over the San Francisco 49ers. It was the kind of game a franchise quarterback wins with that alchemist's combination of precision and moxie.

Then came last week's five-turnover debacle. A fumble cost the Seahawks a field goal. An interception set up Tampa Bay's first score. He was picked off twice in the fourth quarter of a comeback that never got started, and Seattle's offense looked feeble, going scoreless in the second half for a second consecutive week.

So where is Seattle at with Hasselbeck, who has one more year remaining on his contract?

Jim Mora has been unequivocal from his first day as head coach: Hasselbeck is his quarterback, one he feels lucky to have.

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Hasselbeck's quarterback rating is 79.6, which falls well short of exceptional but is not quite awful, either. He finished with a worse rating in three of his first eight seasons in Seattle.

Seattle needs to plan for his heir. The question is how firm is the timeline for the succession, because with two first-round picks in 2010, the Seahawks will have a chance to dump big bucks into another passer.

The team drafted two quarterbacks in Ruskell's five years as president. David Greene was a third-round choice in 2005, but washed out in 2007. Mike Teel was a sixth-round choice a year ago, and at this point he's not much more than hope in the pocket.

That's about all Hasselbeck was his first three years in the league with the Packers. He excelled in August, showing he was worth holding, then gave way to Brett Favre when the games began to count.

Mike McCarthy, now Green Bay's head coach, was in charge of the Packers' quarterbacks in 1999 when Hasselbeck beat out Rick Mirer for the backup quarterbacks job.

"I just felt he was a winner," McCarthy said. "He got in there at every opportunity and he just dove into it headfirst. And I love that."

Sounds like the same reason Hasselbeck got a shot in Green Bay in the first place, chosen in the sixth round out of Boston College even though he wasn't invited to the scouting combine.

Andy Reid was Green Bay's quarterbacks coach at the time, and he was the one who worked out Hasselbeck before the draft and pored over his film. It was only after the Packers drafted Hasselbeck that Reid showed the footage that convinced him. It was a night game in sleet and snow, Boston College vs. Army. After Hasselbeck had dumped off a pass to Mike Cloud, he had a bad feeling about the slick ball. He ran after Cloud and was in position to recover the football.

That convinced Green Bay he was worth a draft pick, starting a career that eventually took him to Seattle. On Sunday, he returns to where it all began with a chance to set the Seahawks' career passing mark.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Passing fancy
Matt Hasselbeck is 73 passing yards from replacing Dave Krieg atop Seattle's franchise record books for career passing:
Player, years Yards
Dave Krieg

1980-1991

26,132
Matt Hasselbeck

2001-present

26,060
Jim Zorn

1976-1984

20,122

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