Matt Hasselbeck Was Tragically ‘on His Deathbed’ Days Before Leading the Indianapolis Colts To a Win

Matt Hasselbeck played in a lot of big games during his career as an NFL quarterback. He even led the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl appearance. However, his biggest performance might have been in a regular-season game with the Indianapolis Colts. He ultimately went from being “on his deathbed” to leading the Colts to a victory.

Matt Hasselbeck was filling in for Andrew Luck on the Indianapolis Colts

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The Colts were coming off a trip to the AFC Championship Game in 2014, but during the 2015 season, they started 0-2, and Andrew Luck injured his shoulder. This led to Matt Hasselbeck filling in for Luck.

Hasselbeck ultimately started in eight games that year and went 5-3 in those starts. He wasn’t Andrew Luck by any means, but he was serviceable. He threw for 1,690 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions.

While Hasselbeck played well, the Colts still only went 8-8 overall during the 2015 season. They ultimately missed the playoffs.

He felt sick in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars

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Hasselbeck’s first start that season came in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was his first start since playing for the Tennessee Titans in 2012. The Colts won the game 16-13 in overtime, and as the game was heading into OT, Hasselbeck started feeling pretty sick.

“I started, like, uncontrollably shivering. I wasn’t in the game,” Hasselbeck said, according to The Athletic. “I was on the sideline. But I was shivering. And I had a massive headache and felt like I was going to throw up. So, I went up to one of the trainers and I said, ‘I think I have a concussion. I feel drunk.'”

The trainers thought it was maybe just nerves.

“I was so offended. … I said, ‘I promise you, I am not nervous about this Jacksonville game,'” Hasselbeck said, according to The Athletic.

Hasselbeck then did a lot of throwing up after the game, and his condition didn’t improve by that night. He then went to a hospital for tests. He ultimately had a bacterial infection that typically comes from chicken. The infection came from a bad Chipotle burrito.

“The woman tells me, ‘You’re going to have to contact your job,” Hasselbeck said, according to The Athletic. “You’re not going to be able to do much for maybe four to six weeks.’ I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Um, we’ve got Houston in three days.'”

Matt Hasselbeck ‘looked like death’ before playing Houston

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The Colts attempted to flush everything out that week. Hasselbeck was constantly on IVs. He took IVs on that Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and twice on Thursday, which was game day, according to the IndyStar. He practiced one time that week and was even too sick to speak during the team meeting the night before the game.

Legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri said he “looked like warmed-over death,” according to the IndyStar.

“I went downstairs for meetings and there was this open conference room (being used as a training room),” former Colts offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said, according to The Athletic. “I walked by and did a double take. There was like a gurney, or something, with a guy covered in towels and blankets with an IV hooked up. I’m thinking, who the hell is that? So, I walk in, like, ‘What’s going on here?’ And it was Matt.”

Hasselbeck didn’t improve by gameday, either.

“I look over to the side and there’s someone under about four blankets and I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And it’s Hasselbeck with an IV attached to him. I’m not kidding: He looked like death,” former Colts offensive lineman Joe Reitz said, according to The Athletic.

He led the Indianapolis Colts to a win

Matt Hasselbeck led the Indianapolis Colts to a win in 2015. However, he was "on his deathbed" just days before playing in the game.
Matt Hasselbeck is interviewed by Tracy Wolfson after the Indianapolis Colts’ game against the Houston Texans in 2015. | Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Hasselbeck ended up playing.

“I was kind of faking it for pregame,” Hasselbeck said, according to The Athletic. “But then the game came and, honestly, I felt fine. I can’t really explain it.”

Hasselbeck ultimately led the Colts to a 27-20 win over the Texans, and he played well. He threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He also iced the game with a 43-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton on third down with 1:37 left, helping the Colts improve to 3-2.

“Was literally on his deathbed Monday and Tuesday and mustered enough to come in on Wednesday and practice,” former Colts coach Chuck Pagano said, per the IndyStar. “Grittiest performance I have seen in a long, long time.”

The Colts weren’t a winning team in 2015, but Hasselbeck’s performance was something his teammates won’t ever forget. And he won’t ever forget what his teammates did for him.

“When you have a guy who isn’t 100 percent, the guys around you play better than they usually play and lift that person up,” Hasselbeck said, according to The Athletic. “And that’s what everybody did for me.”

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference