Tony Nathan

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Tony Nathan
No. 22
Position: Running Back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1956-12-14) December 14, 1956 (age 59)
Place of birth: Birmingham, Alabama
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 206 lb (93 kg)
Career information
College: Alabama
NFL draft: 1979 / Round: 3 / Pick: 61
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • All-Pro (1979)
  • National Champion (1978)
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards: 3,543
Average: 4.8
Touchdowns: 16
Return yards: 1,617
Return TDs: 1

Tony Curtis Nathan (born December 14, 1956) is an African American football coach and former running back.

Nathan was a running back from the University of Alabama who was selected in the third round (61st overall) of the 1979 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, with whom he played from 1979-1987. A smart and elusive runner with great pass-catching abilities, he was undersized and so would rarely receive the most carries.

High school[edit]

During his sophomore year, Tony Nathan became one of the first black football players at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Alabama.[1] The story of his high school career was made into a Pure Flix Entertainment film known as "Woodlawn." It was released on October 16, 2015.


In his four seasons with the Crimson Tide, Nathan rushed for 1,997 yards, with 29 touchdowns and a 6.4 yards per carry average. Also excelling as a kick returner, he finished his college career with 30 touchdowns and 3,362 all-purpose yards, including a 10.9 average in yards per punt return.

NFL career[edit]

Nathan was the Dolphins' starting running back in Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XIX. He had a superb performance in Super Bowl XIX, with 18 yards rushing and 10 receptions for 83 yards. His ten receptions were the second most in Super Bowl history at the time. He was also instrumental in the Dolphins' 45-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1985 AFC Championship game, in which he rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown, and caught eight receptions for 114 yards. He also had a key performance in the 1981 AFC Divisional playoff game against the San Diego Chargers that became known as "The Epic In Miami". Nathan gained 169 total yards and scored two touchdowns in the Dolphins' narrow loss, including a score on the famous "hook and lateral" play in which he caught a toss from receiver Duriel Harris.

He finished his nine NFL seasons with 3,543 yards rushing, 383 receptions for 3,592 yards, and 32 touchdowns (16 each rushing and receiving). He also completed four of eight passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. He retired from playing in 1988, and became an assistant to Don Shula. He became the Dolphins' running backs coach in 1993. He served under Tony Dungy as the running backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 to 2001. The Bucs ranked 22nd in the NFL in rushing offense in his first year, but rose steadily to 11th and then 4th in the next two seasons. The Bucs fell to 30th in the league in rushing in 2001, and he was replaced by incoming head coach Jon Gruden.

From 2003 to 2005, Nathan was the running backs coach at Florida International University, under head coach and former Dolphins teammate Don Strock.

Nathan was inducted into the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame in 2006, along with Curtis Martin and Michael Strahan.[2] Additionally, he returned to the NFL coaching ranks as the Baltimore Ravens' running backs coach.[3][4] On February 4, 2008 Nathan was hired as the San Francisco 49ers' running backs coach, making him the 24th former Raven to join the 49ers since Mike Nolan became the head coach. Nathan was fired by the 49ers on December 30, 2008.


He is currently the Bailiff for former teammate Judge Edward Newman in Miami-Dade County court and is the subject of the 2015 feature film, Woodlawn.[5][6]

Fulfilling a promise he made to Bear Bryant in 1979, Nathan returned to finish his degree at Alabama in 2015.


External links[edit]