Seahawks Hasselback Blitzed by Bush Backlash

Two stars of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks got a little more than they bargained for

Are you still fans of Matt Hasselbeck and Mack Strong after they visited President Bush last week in Bellevue? Or have their political leanings turned you against them?

The Seahawks quarterback and fullback gave the 43rd president a No. 43 jersey with his name on it at a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for Rep. Dave Reichert at the Hyatt.

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).”

As evidence were these responses to Angelo Bruscas’ blog posting on seattlepi.com: “How dare Hasselbeck declare Bush an honorary Seahawk,” wrote one. “Who is Matt speaking for? Bush is no Seahawk. He is the worst president of my lifetime, and I’m almost 60. Shame on you, Matt.” “To learn that two of the most popular Seahawks are strong (Bush) supporters ruins the season for me and my family,” wrote another.

People are very strange.

One can understand some fan backlash against celebrities who go out of their way to politicize their craft. One doesn’t want to go to a concert to hear the singers’ political views, for example. For that matter, it would be very hard to root for Michael Vick at this point, knowing what we do about his character.

But meeting with the president and giving him a jersey? The Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Braves, and Alabama Crimson Tide football team all met with Bill Clinton — at times, very controversial — after winning championships during the 1990s. I don’t recall any controversy over that and, certainly, it didn’t stop me from rooting for those teams.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    BDS at its finest. It does make you wonder how BDS suffers are going to cope going forward.

    If another republican wins in 2008, will they transfer all that animosity to them? If a democrat wins, will it all just blow away or will they spiral down into further dementia when the world doesn’t change on a dime.

  2. I believe every Superbowl winner, NBA champ, Olympic team, etc. gets invited to the Whitehouse for a ceremony. It is puff press piece for whoever is in office and even the athletes who vote for the other party are usually thrilled to be an honorary guest.

    I see this as just the same thing, just initiated from the athelete’s side. He was not making a political statement (ala Dixie Chicks), but just getting a chance to rub elbows with whoever is occupying the Office of the President.

  3. Andy says:

    Didn’t we already know that the Hasselbecks are right wingers?

  4. Pug says:

    BDS at its finest. It does make you wonder how BDS suffers are going to cope going forward.

    If another republican wins in 2008, will they transfer all that animosity to them? If a democrat wins, will it all just blow away . . .

    I would expect in the case of a Democratic win we would see a recurrence of CDS.

  5. jeff b says:

    I think those of us without lobotomies can appreciate the difference between football champions being received at the White House and football players lending their names to political fundraisers.

  6. R. Alex says:

    Yeah, I think the fundraising is the issue.

  7. Triumph says:

    But meeting with the president and giving him a jersey? The Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Braves, and Alabama Crimson Tide football team all met with Bill Clinton — at times, very controversial — after winning championships during the 1990s. I don’t recall any controversy over that and, certainly, it didn’t stop me from rooting for those teams.

    The Seahawks won nothing. This was part of a political fundraiser.

  8. … don’t recall any controversy over that and, certainly, it didn’t stop me from rooting for those teams.

    Liberal mindset, tolerance and diversity is grand as long as we agree with them. In reverse, they the libs are xenophobic to the max. And anyone who is not in lockstep is obviously from a different planet in the Lib’s mind.