Joe Nash probably had no business playing 15 seasons for the Seahawks. But play them he did, and at a level that made him an overwhelming choice for a spot on the 35th Anniversary team.
Dependable and durable. Persistent and productive. Overachiever and underrated.
You could pick any of those tags to describe Joe Nash. But to do him and his 15-season career with the Seahawks justice, you need to pick each one – and then one.
“It definitely was hard work, and it was perseverance,” Nash said. “But it was a lot of luck, too. Absolutely a lot of luck.”
Lucky? How do you play as long as Nash did (a club-record 218 games) at the position he played (nose tackle) and call it luck.
Let Nash explain.
“Part of the reason I was kept one year was because ‘Heartburn’ broke his leg during a preseason game,” Nash said of the injury defensive tackle Robert “Heartburn” Hardy got in 1982.
“And then I ended up getting my first start because Manu ended up getting that turf toe,” Nash added of moving into the lineup midway through the 1983 season because of an injury to former first-round draft choice Manu Tuiasosopo.
“So I don’t want to say I was lucky, but I was lucky it happen. I feel bad it happened to them. But if those couple of things hadn’t happened, it may not have turned out the same way.”
Blue and Green Dream Team
The Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team, as selected by the readers of Seahawks.com:
WR Steve Largent
LT Walter Jones
LG Steve Hutchinson
C Robbie Tobeck
RG Bryan Millard
RT Howard Ballard
TE John Carlson
WR Bobby Engram
WR Brian Blades
QB Matt Hasselbeck
RB Shaun Alexander
FB Mack Strong
DE Jacob Green
DT Joe Nash
DT Cortez Kennedy
DE Michael Sinclair
OLB Chad Brown
MLB Lofa Tatupu
ILB Fredd Young
OLB Rufus Porter
CB Marcus Trufant
CB Dave Brown
NB Shawn Springs
SS Kenny Easley
FS Eugene Robinson
K Norm Johnson
P Rick Tuten
KOR Steve Broussard
PR Nate Burleson
Then there was the story Nash shared during an interview for a story to setup the voting process for the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team. It’s a tale of how his 15-season career almost didn’t get to a first season – and it’s worth repeating.
“I was supposed to get cut, on the final cut,” said Nash, who arrived in 1982 as a rookie free agent from Boston College. “It was really weird because I was in this room with about 10 other guys who got cut.”
That’s when then-director of pro scouting Chuck Allen intervened, telling Nash that the club was trying to find a way to keep him.
“I stayed in the room, which was kind of awkward because the guy I was rooming with turned back and said, ‘What are you doing?’ ” Nash recalled. “They ended up putting someone else on IR (injured reserve) and I got to stay.”
And stay he did, starting 169 games – which ranks fourth in franchise history behind wide receiver Steve Largent (197), left tackle Walter Jones (180) and defensive end Jacob Green (176); who were voted to the 35th Anniversary team.
Nash obviously persevered, and produced. So it is no surprise that he is the nose tackle on the reader-selected team. Nash received 2,951 votes, less than Cortez Kennedy (4,172) but far more than third-place finisher Sam Adams (406).
Nash was voted to one Pro Bowl – in 1984, when he had seven sacks among his 82 tackles. He had even more productive seasons in 1985, with 87 tackles and a career-high nine sacks; and 1989, with a career-high 92 tackles and eight sacks. Overall, he ranks third all-time in tackles (779) and sixth in sacks (47½). Nash also did his thing on special teams, blocking eight field goals and two PATs.
“Who could have ever dreamed it?” Nash said.
Before he was finished, Nash had become a dream teammate.
“I can’t say anything but great things about Joe Nash,” Kennedy offered. “A lot of my success came because of Joe. I remember one game; I was having trouble beating this guy. Joe asked me what kind of moves I was making. I told him, “In and out.” He said, ‘Tez, that’s your problem. Forget the in and out. Just get your big ol’ butt up the field. That’s all you need to do.’
“And it worked. Joe was a great guy, and a tough guy.”
Nash had a similar affect on Michael Sinclair, the defensive end opposite Green on the 35th Anniversary team who is now the D-line coach for the CFL champion Montreal Alouettes.
“I still use Joe Nash as an example when I talk to my players,” Sinclair said. “For a guy who weighed 275 pounds to play the position he played, and the way he played it, just remarkable. He was always where he was supposed to be.”
But Nash’s lead-by-example tutelage carried over to the locker room, and even the film room.
“Joe taught me how to watch film. No, not just watch film. That guy taught me how to study film – and it’s still how I study film today in getting ready for opponents,” Sinclair said, echoing a statement that Kennedy also made on several occasions.
“So I tell my guys, ‘You don’t necessarily have to have all the talent, if you’re passionate about what you do. Because I knew a guy who was passionate. A 275-pound ‘shade,’ they don’t make them anymore.’ So kudos out to Joe Nash, for not only being a great player but taking young guys under his wing and helping them be successful.”
Nash still is successful, which isn’t surprising, either. He works for a bank in Boston and he and his wife, Nancy, have three grown children – Alissa, 23; Robert, 20; and Brooke, 18, who was born late in Nash’s career.
That long career ended long ago, but Nash will always have the memories of his improbable tenure with the Seahawks.
“I’ve got a few highlights in my head – like blocking the field goal against the Raiders,” he said, before laughing as he added, “But I’ve also got some nightmares in my head, as well, for some games that went the other way.”
“So it’s kind of a mixed bag in there, as far as memories go,” he said. “But it was great, great times and I met some great, great people.”
The greatest are now Nash’s teammates again, on the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team.