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.