Houshmandzadeh doesn't regret spurning Vikings for Seahawks

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

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

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

All except for the quarterback. The Vikings were preparing to enter 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 the Seattle Seahawks 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 that Brett Favre would come 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 NFC's top playoff seed.

For more on the Seattle Seahawks, check out the latest from our bloggers.

It has been a much more difficult year for the Seahawks (3-6), who have been beset by injuries and 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 weekend against the Arizona Cardinals, catching nine passes for 165 yards in a 31-20 loss. But he also has five games this season in which he failed to top 50 receiving yards, production that certainly has been affected by quarterback 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, Houshmandzadeh and the Seahawks are languishing in the NFC West. They need a major turnaround to avoid missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

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

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

The Vikings saw the former Cincinnati Bengal as the big, precise route runner they needed to complement speedster Bernard Berrian on the outside. But when Houshmandzadeh headed to Seattle instead, he might have helped out Minnesota.

Had Houshmandzadeh signed a big contract to play for the Vikings, they might not have selected University of Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin with their first-round draft 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. 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. Houshmandzadeh also has complained about not having enough passes thrown his way.

Houshmandzadeh said Thursday that he's feeling more like himself lately and wasn't ready to say he made the wrong choice by signing with the Seahawks.

"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."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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