Eden Prairie, MN (July 30, 2012) – Former Minnesota Vikings LB Matt Blair will be inducted as the 20th member of the Vikings Ring of Honor on Thursday, October 25, 2012, at halftime of the Vikings-Buccaneers game at Mall of America Field.
Originally a second round draft pick (#51) in 1974, Blair played in 160 career games (130 starts) for the Vikings and still ranks 2nd in team history with 1,452 career tackles. Only Scott Studwell and Roy Winston played in more games as a linebacker than Blair.
Regarded as a highly productive player with a knack for being in the right place at the right time, Blair holds the Vikings record with 20 blocked kicks, notching two blocks in a single game three different times. His 23.0 sacks and 16 interceptions also rank as the most by a Vikings linebacker.
The Iowa State grad was a part of Vikings playoff teams in six of his opening seven seasons with the team and played on the Vikings Super Bowl IX and XI teams. He was named to the Pro Bowl in six straight seasons from 1977-82, tying him for the fifth-most Pro Bowl berths by a Viking in club history, and was named All-Pro in 1980. Among Vikings defensive players, only Alan Page had more Pro Bowl honors (9) than Blair.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS RING OF HONOR
Fran Tarkenton 1998
Alan Page 1998
Jim Finks 1998
Bud Grant 1998
Paul Krause 1998
Fred Zamberletti 1998
Jim Marshall 1999
Ron Yary 2001
Korey Stringer 2001
Mick Tinglehoff 2001
Carl Eller 2002
Cris Carter 2003
Bill Brown 2004
Jerry Burns 2005
Randall McDaniel 2006
Chuck Foreman 2007
John Randle 2008
Scott Studwell 2009
Chris Doleman 2011
Matt Blair 2012
Blair spoke to some reporters at training camp after the news…here was his reactions:
It’s an honor for one thing to be inducted into the Ring of Honor. It’s one of those things that you look back in a lifetime and you work hard, you don’t get there because of yourself, you get there because of your teammates. The guys I played with, the Purple People Eaters, that was huge. I’ll never forget some of the stories, one was when the Miami Dolphins were world champs and in the preseason I got beat on a pass play. Bud (Grant) told me to come out of the game and Carl (Eller) said, “Blair you’ll be alright.” I said, “No, Carl, you’ve been here for 10 years, I’m trying to make this team.” I made the team because we had Fred McNeill as number one, gave him all the money, so I had to work hard. I made the team and I was very blessed to play for 12 years and play on two Super Bowl teams. But when they told me today from Zygi Wilf, I thought they were going to do an interview, I didn’t think I was going to be inducted to the Ring of Honor for the Vikings. I came down and they said that this morning and I was very emotional, very touched by it. It is an honor to be a part of the other 19 guys, I think I’m number 20, so it’s good to be on that team.
Q: How special will it be to see your name up there?
A: Well, that’s a good question. When I wrote down goals that I wanted to do, before I retired I wanted to buy season tickets. I bought eight tickets and I let my friends go. I said, when I retire I want to go sit and watch the game, and I did. It was something I wanted to do, sit there and be a part of it. It was something that was awesome and I am a fan now because you know why, I’ve been to two Super Bowls, the Vikings have been to four. I’m a fan because I want to cheer these guys on so we can win a Super Bowl. With the chances we’ve had and after you play the game and you lose, you want to win. I’m cheering these guys on and trying to help them out as much as I can.
Q: Does any particular memory stand out?
A: There are a lot of memories, what about this (broken) finger here (laughs). There are a lot of them, just making the team was the main thing. The one, I think, is in the Super Bowl, which didn’t hit me until after I retired, I blocked a kick for our only points in the Super Bowl. Now people are saying, you’re the one who gave us the score, and that’s one of my things that I think about and just think, “Wow, I was able to do that.”
Q: What happened to your finger?
A: We were in my second year in a preseason game with Denver, I went to make a tackle and I got my finger stuck in the ear hole of the running back. He went down, I went down, and it broke in half. I went back to the huddle and someone said, “Hey your finger is broken.” I said. “Oh, it is!” So I went to the sideline and it was about the third quarter so I didn’t have to go back in, but I did have to wear a cast the whole season, and yes I blocked a few kicks and it hurt. So that’s what the finger story is about.
Q: What was the key to blocking so many kicks and what has happened to that art in football?
A: My rookie year I came in and they knew I played basketball. I can slam dunk the basketball, so the defensive line coach back then said “Hey Matt, come stand in the middle and try and jump as high as you can and try to dunk the ball.” I said okay, and I tried it, and it worked. So from that point on we continued doing it. Then we had other guys come and join me. We had Joe Senser help me and we kind of double teamed and jumped up, and he also played basketball. When (Don) Shula, head coach of the Miami Dolphins, in two playoff games got his kicks blocked, he was the head of the rules committee went in there and said, “No more running and jumping.” They set that rule and that is why we can’t do it anymore. That was key to blocking kicks, taking a run, time it and jump, but the defensive line has to move forward maybe a yard or two to help out. The further they move forward the better step I can take and go up.
Q: What are you doing these days and where are you at?
A: I’m on that retirement side, but (a lot of) golf. As a matter of fact, I’m playing in that pro-am tomorrow at 3M. I take photos, that is something I like. I’m at the uptown art show this weekend; I was a member artist for them last year. That is kind of my fun, my pleasure and I try to help people in different events, so I stay kind of busy but it’s okay, it’s alright.
Q: Has this Ring of Honor been on your mind for a while, one of your goals post career?
A: Ring of Honor I think is something that is very special. On my mind? Oh yeah, it’s on your mind and I know that there will be a time where there is a chance, and this is my chance and I’m honored to be a part of it.
Q: You will be the first member inducted since the new stadium news, have they given you any insight as to what the new Ring of Honor might look like?
A: No, but it’s kind of cool to be inducted into the stadium that you have played in. They haven’t told me anything about the new stadium yet, but I know if it’s going to be built it is kind of cool to have my name and picture up there at the new stadium as well.