He was a tough rover who always backed himself in a contest and was one of the most courageous footballers to play for the St Kilda Football Club. He set the club record for most number of games at his retirement, with 323 games which was broken by former team-mate Robert Harvey in round 7, 2006. His tough playing style lead to his using of a helmet.
He started his football playing career with the Pines Football Club. His professional career spanned 1987–2003 despite missing most of 2002 with a knee injury, with Burke deciding to retire late in the season, in the Round 18 clash with Richmond, which the Saints won by 80 points. It was also notable for the fact that the coaching panel of Richmond that day included fellow St Kilda teammates Danny Frawley and Stewart Loewe, who stayed on the ground in honour of Burke following his parade lap (with Alex Lloyd's "Amazing" played at the ground).
Burke has been a Director of the St Kilda FC since 2008, recently resigning to pursue business interests in 2015. he Joined the Board with fellow player Andrew Thompson.
Nathan lives in Sandringham with his wife of 19 years Fiona and their three children Ruby 15, Molly 14 and Alice 12 After Burke's retirement from career football in 2003, he directed his talents into business as a leadership and culture consultant. For 6 years he joined the contact centres industry and was the Chief Engagement Manager and Chief Operating Officer for CallActive. Burke now runs his own consultancy business specialising in leadership, employee engagement and culture.
He is also a regular expert commentator on ABC Grandstand football coverage , an AFL analyst for Fox Sports News, and co hosts the Sunday Huddle on ABC radio. He is a feature article writer for Inside Football magazine also. This work compliments his corporate guest speaking and school programs
In 2015 he rejoined the AFL Match Review Panel, a role he held prior to joining the Board at St Kilda F.C