If Matt Hasselbeck is to be believed, the Tennessee Titans have the friendliest quarterback competition in NFL history.
Hasselbeck, the incumbent starter who will try to stave off last year’s first-round draft pick Jake Locker for at least another year, gushed about Locker in an interview with NFL Network’s Rich Eisen. Hasselbeck noted that he signed with the Titans last year knowing that he was the short-term starter but that Locker as franchise quarterback was Tennessee’s long-term plan, and he likes it that way.
“Jake’s great. He’s been awesome,” Hasselbeck said. “It was a weird thing with the lockout last year. He was drafted by the Titans and then free agency happened after that. I had a choice to sign and I knew — a lot of times you get signed before and then you don’t know what the team’s going to do in the draft. This was a situation where they drafted him, he becomes their guy of the future, the guy they’re committed to and invested in. I didn’t really know him well but I think that was a positive for me going into it. In my mind I was like, ‘Here’s a young guy who’s really talented, who seems like a great guy, everybody I know says he’s a great guy, he’ll be fun to work with and compete with.’”
Hasselbeck said that as much as he was optimistic about a good working relationship with Locker, the relationship has exceeded his expectations.
“It’s been ten times better,” Hasselbeck said. “He’s a better kid than I’ve heard, he’s a better thrower than I’ve heard, he’s much smarter in the classroom than I would have expected for someone his age. So it’s been really good, it’s been really fun, my kids love him and the whole quarterback room in general is really good.”
As a young quarterback in Green Bay and Seattle, Hasselbeck had good relationships with veterans Brett Favre and Trent Dilfer. Now Hasselbeck sounds like he’s eager to pay it forward by serving as a mentor to Locker. Even though he’s not willing to cede the starting job just yet.