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Former Minnesota Vikings great Matt Blair dies at 70

Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Former Minnesota Vikings star linebacker Matt Blair died Thursday at age 70, the team announced.

Blair had been in hospice care for an extended period of time, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The newspaper reported that Blair had early signs of dementia, likely the results of chronic traumatic encephalopathy -- a neurodegenerative disease linked to football.

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"Matt Blair was a great presence at Vikings events and a tremendous teammate long after playing," Vikings owner Mark Wilf said in a statement Thursday. "He embodied the best of what it means to be a Viking. Matt is a Ring of Honor player whose legacy will live on forever with the franchise and in the community he loved."

The Vikings drafted Blair in the second round of the 1974 NFL Draft out of Iowa State. He spent all 12 of his NFL seasons with the franchise (1974-85) and recorded 1,452 tackles, which is second in team history.

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After becoming a starter in 1976, Blair went to six straight Pro Bowls (1977-82) and helped guide the Vikings to two Super Bowl appearances.

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Blair was named to the 50 Greatest Vikings list in 2010 and inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in October 2012.

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Richard Thornburgh
Richard "Dick" Thornburgh, former attorney general of the United States and former governor of Pennsylvania, takes a seat at the witness hearing after U.S. Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2005. Thornburgh died on December 31 at age 88. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

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