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.
"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."
Matt Blair was named to 6 Pro Bowls during his 12 NFL seasons and ranks 2nd in team history with 1,452 tackles.
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.
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.
Blair was named to the 50 Greatest Vikings list in 2010 and inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in October 2012.