Matt Hasselbeck returns to Seattle Monday as part of the ESPN Monday Night Countdown crew for the Seahawks-Atlanta game.

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Matt Hasselbeck used to spend all week preparing to walk inside CenturyLink Field and hope that all the hard work would pay off.

This week, Hasselbeck will spend his days in preparation to go to work just outside CenturyLink Field.

Well, for a while, anyway.

The former Seahawks quarterback works for ESPN and is part of the Monday Night Countdown crew for this week’s Seattle vs. Atlanta game.

Monday’s game will be the third of three this year in which the show will start with an outside “tailgate’’ hour — or more likely, about 75 minutes — on a stage in the north parking lot of CenturyLink Field.

It’s a setup in some ways similar to ESPN’s popular College Gameday Show, though one difference is that the group will head into the stadium about halfway through and conclude the show there.

Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman said Seattle was specifically picked as one of the three sites for an outdoor segment due to its gameday atmosphere. The two other shows this year were held in Kansas City and Green Bay.

“We decided to take a look at a few of the cities that are really special experiences for Monday night, both inside and outside the stadium,’’ Markman said. “Not every city has that, to be honest with you.’’

For Hasselbeck, the game means another trip back to the city where he played from 2001-10.

He returned last year — his first with ESPN after retiring from football — for a Monday night Seahawks’ game against Buffalo.

“It was great to be back last year, but it felt very, very weird being there and being on the sidelines,’’ Hasselbeck said in a phone interview Wednesday. “But it was also very, very cool.’’

Hasselbeck has been in the stadium a few times since his Seattle career ended. He played an exhibition game at CenturyLink in 2012 as a member of the Tennessee Titans. And, he says with a fatherly laugh, he took one of his daughters to a One Direction show there in 2015.

Hasselbeck, 42, retired after the 2015 season, which was his third with the Colts. He remains Seattle’s all-time leading passer with 29,434 yards.

Hasselbeck’s comfort during interviews as an NFL quarterback and long career made him a natural to go into the media when his playing days were over (younger brother Tim has worked for ESPN since 2008). But he says there’s still some adjusting.

“I’m learning,’’ Hasselbeck said. “I feel like a rookie again. In every locker room I was in for the last few years I was the old guy. I was getting made fun of when I was in Seattle for turning 35 like ‘oh you are turning 35.’ Making me feel like Moses or something. Now I’m 42 and I’m typically the youngest person on everything that I do. So it is different. Got to learn all the verbiage and the language and learn how to play on a new team that is different from the teams you have been on.’’

While Hasselbeck maintains a summer residence in the Lake Chelan area, his permanent home is now Boston — he was a quarterback at Boston College — with his wife Sarah. His two daughters (Annabelle and Mallory) are in high school and his son Henry is 12.

His kids dabble in hockey, field hockey (the sport his wife played at BC) and lacrosse, all sports big in the Boston area, which is one reason he said the family decided to settle there.

It’s also about a 90-minute drive to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

“So we’re trying out Boston, seeing how it goes,’’ Hasselbeck said.

The transition to the media has been a little more difficult for Hasselbeck than he expected in one aspect — the amount of time required.

“It’s a lot more work than I thought,’’ he said. “Shoot, as players I think you think it’s pretty easy to coach, to write about the sport, talk about the sport. But it’s not as easy as you think. I should say, it’s hard to do a really good job. You could take the easy way out. But if you are going to do your job well it takes a lot of effort and preparation.’’
Some former athletes also struggle to criticize players and coaches once they move into the booth.

Hasselbeck says he has a different problem.

“I think it’s not hard for me,’’ said Hasselbeck, who is also part of the NFL Sunday Countdown show. “Because I try to criticize the play, not the player. Or the play, not the playcaller. I think honestly what is sometimes hard for me is to say something good about someone I don’t like.’’

He laughs and says with only a little seriousness that “for a while I struggled to say something good about the Pittsburgh Steelers (who beat Seattle in Super Bowl XL). I’m pretty much over it. I think I can throw a couple their way now.’’

And the Seahawks?

Hasselbeck spent the early part of the week studying Seattle closely and says “yeah, strong opinion’’ when asked about the offense.

“They are in position to be in position (to contend). But they need to eliminate the negative plays,’’ he said. “Of all the teams I have studied this year, I don’t think I have studied anybody who has more more than 10 (yards) to go plays. Like first and 15, second and 15, third and 15. It’s like there should be a mandate that one of their main goals here is to have less than 10 to go (after first or second down).

“So often in their games it is like third and 22, third and 18, third and 15 and then they are just counting on heroics from their quarterback or someone else. They are capable of better and I’m sure they know that.’’

As he walks onto the field at CenturyLink Monday after the show moves inside, Hasselbeck will inevitably glance at the team’s Ring of Honor.

No one will be surprised if his name joins the list and he might even be next — the last name added was left tackle Walter Jones in 2014.

“Obviously you hope for everything cool and (people) remembering your team and your career and whatever,’’ he said. “But I always tried to take the approach that any accolade or recognition that I ever got, whether it was Pro Bowl or a player of the week or whatever, that was more of a team honor.

“That would be awesome because it would feel great and it would mean a lot to my family and my kids. But at the same time I would want it just as much for my teammates and the people that were there, or even the fans that were there in the rough years and saw us lose three times to the Rams (in 2004). Or the teammates that were there in overtime in Green Bay (2003 wild card playoff loss) or in the snow in Green Bay (2007 divisional playoff loss). Or the people that were there in Detroit (for the Super Bowl) when we weren’t able to get it done. So I’d think of it more as a team accolade.’’