The following is a press release from Iowa State Athletic Communications.
AMES, Iowa – Matt Blair, who was one of Iowa State’s greatest football players as an All-American and later a six-time Pro Bowl performer in the NFL, passed away today. He was 70 years old.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Blair arrived at Iowa State prior to the 1971 season after a brief stint at Northeast Oklahoma Junior College. His impact on the field was immediate, tallying 115 tackles, four interceptions and six fumble recoveries at the rover position.
Behind Blair’s efforts, the Cyclones made their first-ever bowl appearance in 1971, finishing the season at 8-4 while earning a trip to the Sun Bowl. He was named the game’s outstanding defensive player despite an ISU loss.
Blair suffered a season-ending injury in the opening game of the 1972 campaign, but was awarded an extra year of eligibility in 1973. Blair proceeded to earn All-America and All-Big Eight honors in 1973, registering 77 tackles, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
After his Cyclone career ended, Blair was invited to play in the Hula Bowl, East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. He was eventually drafted in the second round (51st pick) of the 1974 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, a team he would star at for 12 seasons (1974-85).
Blair emerged as one of the best defensive players in the NFL during his time as a Viking. He started in 130 career games and was credited with a team-record 20 blocked kicks, 1,452 tackles, 23.0 sacks and 16 interceptions.
Six times in his career he made the Pro Bowl and was an Associated Press All-Pro selection in 1980.
The Vikings were one of the best teams in the NFC during Blair’s tenure, competing in the playoffs in six of his first seven seasons with the squad and earning two trips to the Super Bowl (Super Bowl IX and XI).
Blair was inducted into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor in 2012.