Throughout a prolific football career that catapulted defensive back Reggie Tongue from Fairbanks’ Lathrop High to the NFL, he carved a reputation as an easy-smiling, good guy – until he arrived at the football field.
Then, kindness gave way to chaos.
Tongue was an impact player – emphasis on impact.
“I really liked it when I hit the bigger tight ends and really put them on their back,’’ Tongue told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner’s Danny Martin in retirement. “When you got them on the ground, that made you feel bigger than life.’’
Yet Tongue was no one-trick pony. He also possessed the speed, athleticism and smarts that influenced outcomes. Witness his 15 career NFL interceptions, 12 forced fumbles, 10 recovered fumbles and four defensive touchdowns in a pro career that spanned 10 seasons (1996-2005) for the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders.
Tongue delivered 676 tackles in the NFL, 531 of them solo jobs, and mixed in 9.5 sacks. His 2002 season with the Seahawks featured a career-high five interceptions and a career-high 10 passes defended. Little wonder he was named the franchise’s strong safety on its All-Decade Team for 2000-2009.
Before Tongue forged an NFL career in which he played 145 games, starting 116 times, he sharpened his craft at Oregon State. He began his Beavers career as a redshirt running back and, fortuitously, moved to defensive back early on because of injuries to that crew’s corps.
Tongue flourished as a defensive back, earning Second- Team All Pac-10 honors as a junior in 1994 and First-Team honors as a senior in 1995.
At Lathrop High, Tongue was a star running back and defensive back – he was the 1990 Alaska Player of the Year – and a track standout.
– Doyle Woody