INDIANAPOLIS —Nesby Glasgow, an eighth-round pick by the Baltimore Colts in 1979 who would quickly assert himself as a talented playmaker and leader at the safety position, died this week after a lengthy battle with stomach cancer.
“Rest in peace, Nesby Glasgow,” Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted on Wednesday. “Nesby was our starting safety for nine seasons, including the ’87 division champ team. He also scouted for us. Nesby was a good man, and our hearts and prayers go out to his family.”
A standout at the University of Washington, Glasgow defied the odds as a late-round selection with the Colts his rookie year in 1979; he played in all 16 games, starting four, that year, logging an interception and two fumble recoveries, while also serving as the team’s primary returner, taking a punt 75 yards to the house for a touchdown against the New England Patriots.
Glasgow earned the starting job at safety out of the gates the following season in 1980, and would go on to enjoy one of the finer defensive careers in franchise history. Over his nine seasons with the Colts from 1979 through 1987, he would earn 12 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries in 128 total games with 114 starts.
Glasgow also had 79 punt returns for 651 total yards (8.2 yards-per-return average), as well as 84 kickoff returns for 1,904 total yards (22.7 yards-per-return average), during his nine-year Colts career. He remains the Colts’ single-season rookie record holder in punt returns (44), while his nine punt returns against the Kansas City Chiefs Sept. 2, 1979, remain the most by a player in Colts franchise history, and are tied for the fifth-most in the NFL since at least 1970.
Glasgow would wrap up his playing career with the Seattle Seahawks, where he spent five seasons from 1988 through 1992.
In his 14-year NFL career, Glasgow would amass 15 interceptions, 17 fumble recoveries and nine sacks. Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, just 13 players in league history have matched that kind of production; four of them (Rod Woodson, Brian Dawkins, Ray Lewis and Junior Seau) are Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, while another, Charles Woodson, is a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer in his first year of eligibility next year.
Of the 12 other players on that list, seven were first-round draft picks, two were second-round draft choices and the other three were third-rounders, further speaking to Glasgow’s ability to take advantage of his opportunities.