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Former Eagle blossoms as Redskins’ QB


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Former Eagle blossoms as Redskins’ QB


By DAVID WEINBERG Staff Writer, (609) 272-7186, E-Mail

PHILADELPHIA - It is tough to say who has enjoyed the better season, Washington quarterback Tim Hasselbeck or his wife, Elisabeth.

"Ah, it's not even close,'' Tim said with a laugh during a phone interview Wednesday. "She's definitely had the better season. She's definitely more popular than me. That's not even a question.''

Both made the most of unexpected opportunities. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, one of the four finalists on the first edition of "Survivor,'' recently beat out several other contenders to join the cast of ABC's "The View'' as a replacement for Lisa Ling.

Things are also looking up for Tim Hasselbeck, who has gone from being cut by the Eagles at the end of training camp to proving to everyone he is a legitimate NFL quarterback.

"He's really playing well,'' Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said. "What he's done over there in a matter of four or five weeks is amazing to me.''

Since taking over for injured Patrick Ramsey, he has emerged as one of the Redskins' few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season. Washington (5-10) has won just one of five games in which he's played, but Hasselbeck has given a good account of himself.

He enters Saturday's game against the Eagles having completed 74 of 145 passes for 820 yards with five touchdowns against six interceptions and a 62.4 efficiency rating.

His former Eagles teammates are his biggest fans. Quarterbacks Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley are among his closest friends. Detmer called Hasselbeck after his first game - an outstanding relief effort against Miami - to offer encouragement and advice. Feeley jokingly left a message on Hasselbeck's cell phone during the Dolphins game and last chatted with him on Tuesday night.

"I don't know if a lot of guys could do what he's done, being three years out of college before getting a chance to play,'' Feeley said. "My hat's off to him.''

Hasselbeck, a former standout at Boston College, was signed by the Eagles late last season after losing a training-camp duel to Feeley. He signed with the Eagles again and again played well in the preseason, but was cut again prior to the start of the regular season.

Almost two months passed and no other teams called. Hasselbeck was on the verge of giving up his dream of joining his brother, Seattle standout Matt Hasselbeck, in the NFL when Washington offered him a tryout.

"I was in L.A. (Los Angeles) and I had been staying in shape and throwing,'' Hasselbeck said. "But at the same time, it was halfway through the season. Part of me was wondering if it was over for me. I kept going through all these scenarios in my head of how it was going to work out for me, and I just couldn't come up with one.

"When the Redskins called I just assumed I was going to work out and go back home. They actually gave me an itinerary that had a flight home for me and everything. A big part of me thought it was over for me.''

One of his parts, his right arm, evidently disagreed. Hasselbeck performed so well that he had to cancel his return trip. Redskins coach Steve Spurrier watched his audition from his office window and was so impressed that he cut Ramsey's backup, Rob Johnson, and signed Hasselbeck on the spot.

He has had one bad outing - he completed just 6 of 26 passes for 56 yards and threw four interceptions with a 0.0 rating against Dallas - but otherwise has been a pleasant surprise. Last week, he bounced back by throwing for 209 yards and two touchdowns at Chicago.

"We thought that signing Timmy was the best move to make at the time, and it's certainly worked out that way,'' Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said in a phone interview. "He's a very good quarterback, and he's done an excellent job. The Eagles must have three good ones there not to be able to keep him. I'm just glad we found him when we did.''

Right now, he is enjoying the view. But it would be even better if he could find a way to beat the Eagles on Saturday, if only to show them how much he has improved in the last few weeks.

He harbors no bitterness. Actually, Hasselbeck said he will be forever grateful to Eagles coach Andy Reid and the coaching staff for giving him the opportunity to hone his talent.

But the Redskins are the team that gave him the chance to capitalize on it.

"I'm excited about playing against the Eagles because it's fun to play against the guys that you know,'' Hasselbeck said. "I don't feel any of the anger that guys like (ex-Eagle and current Redskin) Jeremiah Trotter felt.

"But I'm excited that Washington gave me the chance. I always believed that I was good enough to play at this level. But you never really know until you get the chance. Taking that first step is the hardest part.''

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