Q&A: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck

Colts reserve passer recalls unforgettable experience of being struck by lightning while attending a Boston wedding in 1996.

Indianapolis Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck recently shared with Phillip B. Wilson the frightening experience of being struck by lightning.

Phil B: You were actually struck by lightning?

Matt: Just one time.

Phil B: Just one time?

Matt: The Internet will tell you two times, but to my knowledge, it’s only happened one time.

Phil B: The Internet says twice?

Matt: There’s a Twitter handle called @UberFacts and they’re not real facts.

Phil B: So straighten me out on the one time.

Matt: The one time I was struck by lightning was in 1996. I was at a friend’s wedding with my girlfriend in Boston. My friend was marrying this guy named Peter Laviolette, who is now head coach of the NHL’s Nashville Predators. It was a beautiful day, then all of a sudden it started to rain and storm and it was hot out. All of a sudden, lightning hit. It was like an L-shaped tent wedding and it hit right near my part of the tent. No one on the other side really knew what happened. It hit like this puddle that we were all kind of in at an outdoor wedding. Sixteen of us got struck. We got zapped, like electrocuted. It hurt a lot. Only one guy passed out.

Phil B: It was probably unlike any feeling you’ve ever had, I imagine?

Matt: It’s like getting shocked, but at just another level that you almost can’t comprehend. And the pain is real, it’s definitely real, but it doesn’t last. You have the pain, then it’s gone. There’s no residual pain. For me, it came through my toes to my knees and back down to my toes. I was sitting on a plastic chair. Other people felt it in different places.

Phil B: Wow.

Matt: Yeah, it got some publicity in the Boston Globe and USA TODAY because I think Peter Laviolette was playing for the (American Hockey League) Providence Bruins at the time. Funny thing, I was starting to lose my hair at that time and I can’t say for sure but I feel like it started to grow back just a little bit. Thought I was onto a money maker there.

Phil B: Shock therapy instead of Rogaine?

Matt: Yeah, I thought I was onto a money maker.

Phil B: And then it stopped?

Matt: Yeah, it didn’t really work, so I had to invest in being able to throw a spiral instead.

Phil B: In ’96, you’re doing what then?

Matt: I’m a junior in college (at Boston College). A childhood friend got married.

Phil B: Good Lord.

Matt: Yeah, exactly. That’s what I said when we made it, ‘Good Lord. Hallelujah.’

Phil B: Do you ever think back to that experience?

Matt: Yeah, well, I missed the reception. I was really looking forward to the reception. So we all went to the hospital. My girlfriend, who became my wife, had to stay overnight. Her resting heart rate was too low. I think she had just run the Boston Marathon.

Phil B: You didn’t have to stay overnight?

Matt: Not for me. My resting heart rate was a normal almost out-of-shape person.

Phil B: You came out of it OK, then?

Matt: Yeah. I mean, I’m still bald, but other than that, yeah, I’m OK. I have a healthy fear of lightning though. We played Michigan at Michigan that next year. I’m the starting quarterback and lightning starts. They’re going to delay the game, they kind of do. I really didn’t want to go back out for the second half, and we were up, against Michigan, against Charles Woodson.

Phil B: You’re at the ‘Big House’ and you didn’t want to go back out?

Matt: Yeah, the ‘Big House.’ I didn’t, really. I was like, ‘This is real, guys.’ They’re like, ‘What are the chances?’ And I’m like, ‘They’re better than you think.’ (Laughs.)

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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