Former Vikings linebacker Matt Blair dies at 70

FILE: Matt Blair puts on his honorary purple jacket during the Vikings Ring of Honor ceremony in 2012. Blair died Thursday, October 22nd 2020. Photo: Minnesota Vikings. FILE: Matt Blair puts on his honorary purple jacket during the Vikings Ring of Honor ceremony in 2012. Blair died Thursday, October 22nd 2020.

Chris Long
Updated: October 22, 2020 03:36 PM
Created: October 22, 2020 03:33 PM

The Minnesota Vikings announced former linebacker Matt Blair died Thursday at age 70.

Blair was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor in 2012 and was among the "50 Greatest Vikings" announced in 2010.  He was also a constant presence in the Vikings' community and charity efforts.

"Matt Blair was a great presence at Vikings events and a tremendous teammate long after playing. He embodied the best of what it means to be a Viking," said Vikings Owner Mark Wilf in a statement on the team's website. "Matt is a Ring of Honor player whose legacy will live on forever with the franchise and in the community he loved."

The Vikings drafted him out of Iowa State with the 51st overall pick in the second round of the 1974 draft.  Blair spent his entire 12 year career with the Vikings including appearances in Super Bowls 9 (1974) and 11 (1976).  He recovered two fumbles in the NFC Championship win over the Rams that sent the Vikings to Super Bowl 11.

In the history of the franchise, only Scott Studwell and Roy Winston have played more games at linebacker than Blair.

"Aside from being a tremendous athlete and player, Matt was a better man," Studwell said via the team's announcement. "He was smart, worked at his craft and gave everything for the team. He was a great teammate and fun to be around. He took his work very seriously but had a great life away from football. I'm sad to see him go."

He's the franchise leader among linebackers in both sacks (23) and interceptions (16).

Blair made six consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 1977 to 1982 and was a First-Team All Pro in 1980 and Second-Team All Pro in 1981.

He also holds a Vikings team record with an astounding twenty blocked kicks - 16 extra points, three field goals and one punt.


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