Brock Huard remembers his UW Huskies teammate Joe Jarzynka

Mar 6, 2023, 11:44 AM | Updated: 2:10 pm

The UW Huskies community suffered a big loss over the weekend when Joe Jarzynka, a standout and fan favorite for the Husky football team in the late 1990s, was found dead along the Sol Duc River near Forks, Wash., due to a fishing accident.

Jarzynka, who was 45 and lived in Tacoma, was a Gig Harbor High School alum who endeared himself to UW Huskies fans as a walk-on who found multiple ways to help the team, whether it was returning kickoffs and punts, catching passes and carrying the ball on offense, or even stepping in as a surprisingly effective kicker.

At the same time Jarzynka was wearing the Washington purple and gold, so was Brock Huard, who was a quarterback for the Huskies and is now the longtime co-host of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. On Monday morning, Huard paid tribute to his former teammate.

“Oh man, he was just the absolute life of the party,” Huard said.

In addition to that, there was one word that kept coming up as Huard spoke about Jarzynka.

“(He was) absolute, just, fearless. All of you listening right now can think of your friend growing up – junior high, high school, maybe into college – you’re like, ‘Wow, that dude is fearless.’ Why is that guy jumping off that bridge? Why is that guy on the football field never waiting for a fair catch – ever – with his blond locks flowing out of the back of his helmet?”

According to the Seattle Times, Jarzynka had the opportunity to play on a scholarship at Eastern Washington following a high school MVP season in the Pierce County League for Gig Harbor, but he instead decided to walk on at UW because “football isn’t the only interest in my life.” Not that he played like it, and Huard said that helped him stand out among the other walk-ons on Montlake at the time.

“Those walk-ons, it’s a tougher road in every way. Obviously they’re not getting their school paid for and their food paid for and everything else, so they’re betting on themselves,” Huard said. “They had their own separate locker room – there’s only so much space for the 85 scholarship guys… so the walk-ons had a different locker room down the hall, removed (from the rest of the team). So you had to set yourself apart, you had to do something to earn your way into the other locker room, and Joe did that and more.”

Huard said his Sunday night after hearing the news of Jarzynka’s death was filled with conversations about his unique personality.

“I had a lot of texts on my phone last night, and a lot of us grieving significantly about the loss of a guy that was a bright light, the life of the party and an absolutely fearless football player,” Huard said. “… He wasn’t the biggest, he wasn’t the strongest, he wasn’t the fastest, but my goodness gracious was he one of the favorites.”

You can hear Huard’s full remembrance of Jarzynka in the Blue 88 segment from Monday’s Brock and Salk towards the end of the podcast at this link or in the player below.


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