Free-agent Madness: Strong vs. Nash

Yesterday: Points won out over sacks, as Norm Johnson kicked Rufus Porter out of the competition.

Johnson, the Seahawks’ all-time leading scorer, collected 57 percent of the votes, or 811. That left Porter, a two-time Pro Bowl player as a special teams performer who also led the team in sacks twice, with 43 percent, or 622 votes.

Johnson’s vote total was one more than his point total.

He now moves into a semifinal matchup against quarterback Dave Krieg.

Today: This one is all about staying power – not to mention durability and productivity.

Defensive tackle Joe Nash played in more games (218) than anyone in franchise history, while fullback Mack Strong is No. 2 on the list (201).

Nash made the roster in 1982 as a free agent out of Boston College. He moved into the starting lineup at nose tackle midway through the 1983 season, and there he stayed for the next seven seasons in the 3-4 front – flanked by the defensive end duo of Jacob Green and Jeff Bryant. Nash was voted All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl in 1984, when he had 82 tackles and seven sacks. He produced career-bests in tackles (92) in 1989 and in sacks (nine) in 1985.

In 1992, Nash was back in the lineup at left tackle in a four-man line that also included tackle Cortez Kennedy and Bryant and Tony Woods at end.

Green? Bryant? Kennedy? Woods? All first-round draft choices.

Nash also was a starter from 1993-95. He finally finished his career ranked No. 3 all-time in tackles (779) and No. 6 in sacks (47½), and also blocked a club-record eight field goals – three more than runner-up Craig Terrill. Nash also blocked two PATs.

Speaking of blocks, that was Strong’s strong suit. In fact, toward the end of his career teammates kidding Strong about being two inches shorter than when he arrived in 1993 because of all the lead blocks he threw for a trio of 1,000-yard rushers – Chris Warren, Ricky Watters and Shaun Alexander.

Strong, however, had to wait his turn. Signed out of Georgia in 1993, Strong spent his rookie season on the practice squad. He then saw spot and part-time starter duty at fullback and excelled on special teams – leading the club with 19 coverage tackles in 1995 – before becoming the full-time starter in 2000.

That’s also when coach Mike Holmgren started feeding Strong what he called “cookies” to reward him for all his dirty work. Strong averaged 23 receptions from 2000-06. He also rushed for a career-high 174 yards in 2003.

Strong was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006, and named All-Pro in 2005. He also won the Steve Largent Award five times in a six-season span (2001-06).

Longevity and productivity on defense? Or offense? You make the call.

Tomorrow: Jon Kitna vs. Eugene Robinson


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