On Sunday, Coach Jim Harbaugh punched his ticket to New Orleans, leading the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII in two short years. The ascension of the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback to the top of the NFL coaching food chain made me wonder who will be the next quarterback on a current NFL roster to follow suit. Since most NFL coaches were rarely stars the elite quarterbacks were immediately eliminated from consideration. After careful consideration the Tennessee Titans back-up quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was the obvious choice.
Similar to Harbaugh, Hasselbeck had to work tirelessly to keep a job in the NFL. Not blessed with elite athleticism or a strong arm Hasselbeck spent three years as the back-up to Brett Favre with the Green Bay Packers. Although neither quarterback never hoisted a Lombardi Trophy the statements that each made during the playoff runs with their teams will never be forgotten: Harbaugh’s run to the AFC Championship and Hasselbeck’s costly pick six in a overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers. Unlike the stars who ended their careers with ceremonies and Hall-of-Fame inductions, Hasselback’s retirement will not be breaking news and will likely register very little fanfare. But it is my belief that his last down as a NFL quarterback will only signal his eventual ascension up the NFL coaching ladder.
During Hasselbeck’s career he has received tutelage from a two time Super Bowl winning coach in Mike Holmgren, shadowed a Hall of Fame quarterback in Brett Favre, and has thrown to the greatest receiver of all time in Jerry Rice with the Seattle Seahawks. The knowledge and nuances that has been bestowed upon him by these Canton- bound stars has shaped and molded him for his next job, post retirement. So as pundits sing the praises of Harbaugh for a moment consider his journey and ask yourself who will follow. Although Hasselbeck’s wife may have more notoriety now if in ten years Hasselbeck is one game away from winning a Super Bowl, remember you read it here first.