|Mel Blount was
a six-time All-Pro with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is considered one
of the greatest
defensive backs to ever play in the NFL. His physical style of play
made him one of the most feared defensive backs in the game at a time
when the pass interference rule had not been entirely implemented.
Mel Blount was the prototype cornerback
of his era and a major reason why the Steelers were the dominant
team of the National Football
League in the 1970's. A third-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh
Steelers in 1970, he had ideal size, speed, and quickness, plus the
toughness and mental ability to adjust his coverage tactics to rule
changes that favored receivers.
A Pro-Scouts All-American as both a safety and cornerback at Southern
University, Blount became a starter in the Steelers secondary beginning
in 1972. That season, he didn’t allow a single touchdown. A
fixture at right cornerback, Mel was equally effective playing either
zone or man-to-man defense. Known for his rugged but clean style
of play, his specialty was the “bump-and-run” pass defense.
Because of his size and speed, he literally overpowered pass receivers.
Midway through his career, however, the rules were changed making
such harassment of a receiver illegal. Blount, a native of Vidalia,
Georgia, wound up his career with 57 interceptions which he returned
for 736 yards and two touchdowns. He intercepted at least one pass
in all 14 NFL seasons and led the league in interceptions with 11
in 1975. Blount also was used as a kickoff returner early in his
career. He wound up with 36 returns for 911 yards and a 25.3-yard
average. He also recovered 13 opponents' fumbles, two of which he
returned for touchdowns.
Mel Blount, who was named the NFL's most valuable defensive player
in 1975 by the Associated Press, earned all-pro acclaim in 1975,
1977 and 1981. He also was a four-time All-AFC selection and played
in five Pro Bowls. His fumble recovery in the 1979 AFC Championship
Game led to the Steelers' winning touchdown in a 27-13 victory over
the Houston Oilers. A season earlier in Super
Bowl XIII, Blount's
interception ignited a Pittsburgh drive that resulted in a go-ahead
touchdown in a 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
After his career, Mel became the Director of Player Relations for
the NFL serving from 1983 to 1990. He also became very active in
charity works. He founded the Mel Blount Youth Home, a shelter
and Christian mission for victims of child abuse and neglect, in
his hometown of Vidalia in 1983. In 1989, he opened a second youth
home in Claysville, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh.
Unlike most of his fellow Steeler teammates that are also in the
Pro Football Hall of Fame, Blount's number 47 has remained in circulation
with the team since his retirement and has been reissued several
times in the preseason. The number is, however, rarely issued in
the regular season, but has been issued a few times since.
In 1989, he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the
Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted in the Georgia Sports
Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1994, he was named to the NFL's 75th anniversary
All-Time team. In 1999, he was ranked number 36 on The Sporting News'
list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.