Seahawks QB Hasselbeck has kind words for Super Bowl XL ref

Bill Leavy’s admission that he “kicked two calls” late in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl XL loss received mixed reviews in Seattle. Count Matt Hasselbeck among those who applauded the referee’s candor, even if it came four years after the fact.

The Seahawks quarterback told The Seattle Times on Saturday that while he isn’t completely over the 21-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has no hard feelings toward Leavy.

“I think all of the officials we have in the NFL are stand-up guys, and Leavy is no different,” Hasselbeck said. “… I played some games that I remember because I felt like I did a good job and I played some games where I had some regrets. That goes for any sport, any player. I’m sure coaching is no different, and in that same way, I’m sure officiating is the same thing.”

Leavy made his comments Friday, during a rules interpretation session with the Seattle media, and brought up the sore subject without being asked. He didn’t specify which plays he “kicked” that day in Detroit, but Seahawks fans still discuss two.

Early in the fourth quarter, offensive tackle Sean Locklear was called for holding on a pass completion that would have put the Seahawks at the Steelers’ 1-yard line, poised for the potential tying touchdown. After the penalty, Hasselbeck threw an interception, then was called for a mysterious low block on a play that ended with him tackling Pittsburgh’s Ike Taylor on the defensive back’s return.

The penalty moved the Steelers from their 29 to the 44. Pittsburgh used its better field position to score the clinching touchdown four plays later.

The next day, then-Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren told frustrated fans at a civic gathering at Qwest Field, “I knew it was going to be tough going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn’t know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts, as well.”

Holmgren, now the Cleveland Browns’ president, has since said that he has gotten over that game. However, Leavy didn’t officiate a Seahawks game again until last season, after Holmgren had retired as coach of the team.

Hasselbeck said he wasn’t surprised that Leavy, who became an NFL referee in 2001, brought up the calls without being asked.

“I myself have had to sort of get to the point where I could kind of get past everything,” Hasselbeck said. “And he’s a great guy. He’s actually a really, really good official.”