EAGAN, Minn. — With heavy hearts, the Minnesota Vikings family mourns the loss of Matt Blair.
A player of unmatched skill on the field, Matt's generosity and spirit in the community was equally unique. Always willing to help a teammate or support a worthy cause, Matt's life was vibrant. He brought joy to everyone he touched.
"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. "Matt is a Ring of Honor player whose legacy will live on forever with the franchise and in the community he loved."
Blair passed away Thursday at age 70.
Drafted in the second round out of Iowa State in 1974, Blair played all 12 of his NFL seasons for the Vikings (1974-85). He started 130 of the 160 regular-season games he played, racking up 1,452 tackles, the second-most in team history.
View photos of Vikings legend and Ring of Honor member, Matt Blair.
Only Scott Studwell and Roy Winston played more games at linebacker for Minnesota.
After becoming a starter in 1976, Blair went to six consecutive Pro Bowls (1977-82) and earned a First-Team All-Pro selection from The Associated Press in 1980.
Blair holds the team record with 20 blocked kicks (16 PAT, 3FGs, 1 punt) and also recorded more sacks (23) and interceptions (16) than any linebacker in team history.
A part of Vikings teams that reached Super Bowls IX and XI, Blair recovered two fumbles by the Rams in Minnesota's 24-13 victory in the 1976 NFC Championship.
Blair was named to the 50 Greatest Vikings in 2010 and inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor on Oct. 25, 2012.
"Aside from being a tremendous athlete and player, Matt was a better man," Studwell said. "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."
In addition to helping write Vikings history, Blair captured it along the way through his passion for photography. He's in the middle of the photo below, camera in hand, as Sid Hartman, who passed away on Sunday, is making the rounds.
Keen-eyed, Blair chronicled teammates behind-the-scenes, and he later drew acclaim for his images of landscapes. His work is featured in U.S. Bank Stadium’s Art Collection.