Houshmandzadeh chose Seahawks over Vikes

Nov 30, 2009 - 5:01 AM By JON KRAWCZYNSKI AP Sports Writer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.(AP) -- When T.J. Houshmandzadeh made a free agent visit to Minnesota at the beginning of March, he was impressed by everything he saw. Well, almost everything.

Owner Zygi Wilf cut short a vacation and presented a competitive offer. Receivers coach George Stewart made the veteran feel like the missing piece to the puzzle and coach Brad Childress made it clear how much they valued Houshmandzadeh's services.

"It was just a class organization," Houshmandzadeh said.

All except for the quarterback. The Vikings were preparing to go into training camp with Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson in a competition for the job. That was enough for Houshmandzadeh to sign a five-year, $40 million contract with Seattle instead.

"You knew Minnesota had a good team. It came down to, it felt like the quarterback situation was better here," Houshmandzadeh said. "I did what any receiver would do."

Oops.

Little did Houshmandzadeh know Brett Favre would parachute in to Minnesota two weeks into training camp and deliver an MVP-caliber performance in the first half of the season, putting the Vikings (8-1) in contention for the top seed in the NFC.

It's been a much more difficult year for the Seahawks (3-6), who have been beset by injuries and have lost six of their last eight games heading into Sunday's meeting with the Vikings at the Metrodome.

"Obviously, it doesn't look like I made the right decision," Houshmandzadeh said. "But it's too early. It's been (nine) games."

Houshmandzadeh had his best game as a Seahawk last week against Arizona, catching nine passes for 165 yards in a 31-20 loss. But he also has five games this season where he failed to top 50 yards receiving, production that has certainly been affected by Matt Hasselbeck missing two games with a rib injury.

So while Favre and the Vikings have a commanding three-game lead in the NFC North and are steamrolling toward the playoffs, the Seahawks are languishing in the NFC West. They need a major turnaround to avoid missing the postseason for a second straight year.

What if Favre had already been in purple when Houshmandzadeh was agonizing over the decision?

"Had he been there, who knows what could have happened?" he said. "What if ... What if ..."

The Vikings saw the 31-year-old former Cincinnati Bengal as the big, precise route runner they needed to complement speedster Bernard Berrian on the outside.

But when Houshmandzadeh turned down the Vikings to head out west to Seattle, he may have helped out Minnesota in the long run.

Had Houshmandzadeh signed a big contract to play here, the Vikings may not have selected Florida receiver Percy Harvin with their first-round pick in April. Harvin has been a revelation in his first nine games as a pro, leading the league in yards per kick return and emerging as one of Favre's favorite big-play targets.

"Too bad he didn't come here. I don't know," Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said with a wry grin. "All I know is we've got Percy, Bernard (Berrian) and Sidney (Rice) and those are the guys that we love and we need here. They're making huge plays here.

"He made a decision. He decided what's best for his career," Shiancoe said. "We feel good over here. Hopefully he feels good over there."

There have been times this season when Houshmandzadeh has waxed nostalgic about Carson Palmer and the Bengals, who are enjoying a breakthrough season in first place in the AFC North, and has complained about not getting enough passes thrown his way.

He said he's feeling more like himself lately and wasn't ready to say he made the wrong choice yet.

"As of now, it doesn't look like I made the best decision," Houshmandzadeh said. "But you can't say it's a bad decision. It's been one year. I feel like I have many more years I'll be playing. I feel good."

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AP Sports Writer Gregg Bell in Renton, Wash., contributed to this story.






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