Former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Matt Blair will be inducted as the 20th member of the Vikings’ Ring of Honor on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, at halftime in their contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mall of America Field.
“When I wrote down goals that I wanted to do, before I retired I wanted to buy season tickets,” said Blair when asked how special will it be to see his name in the Ring of Honor.
“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,” he added. “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.”
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 franchise 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.
“My rookie year I came in and they knew I played basketball,” said Blair. “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 (former teammate, tight end) help me and we kind of double teamed and jumped up, and he also played basketball,” he continued. “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.”
The Iowa State grad was a part of Minnesota’s playoff teams in six of his opening seven seasons with the team and played on the Vikings’ Super Bowl IX and XI teams.
Blair was named to the Pro Bowl in six straight seasons from 1977-82, tying him for the fifth-most Pro Bowl berths in club history, and was named All-Pro in 1980. Among Vikings defensive players, only Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page had more Pro Bowl honors (9) than Blair.