Playing his entire pro-career for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mel Blount would become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in a team that was dominant throughout the 70’s.
Born to a poor farming family on April 10th 1948, Blount was the youngest of eleven children and grew up in the dark days of racial segregation in the USA.
He played his college football with Southern Jaguars, who represented Southern University, where he played both cornerback and safety positions with great success.
He was drafted as the 53rd overall pick by the Steelers in 1970 and quickly adapted to the rigours of the professional game, establishing himself as an integral part of the ‘Steel Curtain’ defence and a hugely successful team.
In 1978, the NFL changed the rules surrounding the cornerbacks and it was dubbed the ‘Mel Blount Rule’.
Before the 1978 season, defensive players could punish wide receivers all over the field, which limited the level of passing plays in games. Before the rules were changed, 3,000-yard passers were considered elite, and 30 touchdown passes for a quarterback was unheard of.
He won four Super Bowls with the Steelers in 1975, 1976, 1979 and 1980 and played in five Pro Bowls between 1975 and 1981.
By the end of his career, Blount amassed 13 fumble recoveries, 57 interceptions, which he returned for 736 yards and two touchdowns.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. He was named in the NFL’s 75th anniversary All-Time team. In 1999 and 25 years later, he was also named in the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was ranked number 36 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
When his football career was over, Blount became Director of Player Relations for the NFL, serving in the position from 1983 to 1990. He also founded the Mel Blount Youth Home, a shelter for victims of child abuse and neglect in Georgia in 1983.
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