Photo credit: Daily Norseman
Matt Blair was a linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings from 1974-1985. He spent his entire 12 year career with them and appeared in two of the Vikings four Super Bowls. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection (1977-1982), All-Pro in 1980, All-NFC in 1980 and second-team All-NFC in 1977, 1979 and 1981. He was also on the All-Rookie Team. His 1,452 career tackles are second in team history behind Scott Studwell (1,981).
In addition to being a very good linebacker, he was also a very good special teams player, especially when it came to blocking punts. His 20 blocked kicks are third in NFL history.
The Vikings had one of the best defenses in NFL history with him, Alan Page, Gary Larsen, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and Paul Krause.
Blair was named one of the 50 greatest Vikings in 2010 and inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor in 2012.
Vikings writer Ali Siddiqui reached out to the former linebacker:
Siddiqui: Thank you very much for your time Matt. You played in two Super Bowls. Despite losing in both of them, what was that whole experience like? Not just the game itself but the whole week leading up to it?
Blair: I played in Super Bowl IX, and blocked a field goal that ended up being our only score, but our kicker missed the extra point so we ended up losing that.
Siddiqui: Nowadays it is very rare to see players spend their entire careers with one team. How important was it for you to spend your entire career with the Vikings? Looking back how happy are you that they were the only team you played for?
Blair: Playing for the Vikings was good. If it wasn’t for the knee injury, I’d have played longer.
Siddiqui: What was it like to not only be coached by a Hall of Famer in Bud Grant, but also playing with Hall of Famers in Alan Page, Carl Eller, Paul Krause, Fran Tarkenton and Mick Tingelhoff? How nice was it to also be inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor just like them?
Blair: It was great to be around such talented guys! Being included in the ROH was wonderful!
Siddiqui: Grant did not allow you guys to have heaters on the sidelines as well as not wearing sleeves in cold weather games. Did that take plenty of time to get used to?
Blair: It wasn’t a big deal (about the cold.)
Siddiqui: Looking back at your career, what still sticks out to you the most?
Blair: My 99 1/2 yard interception that I made. Playing in six consecutive Pro Bowls also meant a lot to me.
Siddiqui: Who were some of your favorite players growing up?
Blair: I didn’t follow football as a kid.
Siddiqui: What are your expectations of this year’s Vikings team?
Blair: I think they have to improve the offense.
Siddiqui: What do you think of their current linebackers, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr?
Blair: I think they are ok. They’re good.
Siddiqui: People often compare Mike Zimmer to Grant. Do you see any similarities?
Siddiqui: What have you been up to since you retired after the 1985 season?
Blair: I played golf, raised money for a lot of different charities. And I took lots of photos around the world and sold some at art shows for a few years.
Matt has unfortunately been dealing with dementia recently.