PERHAPS YOU THOUGHT MIKE HOLMGREN WAS THE GUY WHO KEYED MATT HASSELBECK'S SUCCESS. BUT THE TRUE INFLUENCE JUST MIGHT BE A POOR LEPER IN JAMAICA. â€˘ BY GAIL WOOD
_ Malt_Hasselbeck t was here, in the poverty-torn country of In the evenings after a day's work, he'd join the lepers for song Jamaica, while sitting next to a man grotesquely and worship. It was then that Hasselbeck met George McVee, disfigured by leprosy, that Matt Hasselbeck began the man disfigured by leprosy. his unexpected journey to the NFL, to the Pro The first evening, Hasselbeck was the last to arrive and only Bowl, and to the Super Bowl. one chair remained. It was next to McVee. It was here, as Hasselbeck watched with amaze"I'm ashamed to say this, but it was hard to look at him," ment a man who had lost his fingers, ears, nose, and Hasselbeck says. "I didn't really want to sit next to him. His sight to leprosy joyfully praising God in prayer and in song, that leprosy was so much worse than everyone else's. They said it the Seattle Seahawks quarterback wasn't contagious, but 1 was a kid. I didn' t know." discovered the meaning of contentment and commitment. With Hasselbeck seated, McVee Ten years ago, Hasselbeck, as a held a harmonica between his sophomore at Boston College, took stumps and played hymns. And a I0-day missionary trip with 16 everyone sang. There was no other classmates and Father Ted Dziak to music other than the voices and Jamaica. Hasselbeck came back a McVee's harmonica. different man. In between songs, McVee spoke, "No question it was a lifereciting long passages of Scripture changing experience," the Seahawks and poems he had composed. One quarterback says. of his poems he called, "My Cup The trip to Rive1ton City, a shanty- 11../s/and dreams? Using vacation time to serve Runneth Over." town built on a garbage dump near Jamaican people Is an unlikely catalyst for "Then he'd say, 'Thank you, Jamaica's capital city of Kingston, changing a backup QB at Boston College and In Jesus. Thank you, Jesus,' " Hasselgave Hasselbeck a grim, up-close Green Bay to a starter In Seattle and Super Bowl beck recalls. fame, but then Matt Hasselbeck's route to Super look at desperate poverty, some- Bowl XL was a little different from the norm. And Hasselbeck looked at this thing the son of an NFL tight end deformed man and the others in growing up in Boston had never wonder. seen. On several days of the trip, Hasselbeck worked in a home "I'm saying to myself these people should be so angry. What for elderly lepers. they were born into-poverty, poor health. What do they have to He cleaned, scraped, then painted a bathroom in the home. be happy about?" Hasselbeck says. "But in their eyes, it was the COURTESY.
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SP ORTS SPEC TR UM- JA NUARY- FEB RUAR Y 2007