How Fred Cox, the Vikings’ All-Time Leading Scorer and NERF Football Inventor, Died of Kidney Disease

Fred Cox, the legendary kicker who played for the Minnesota Vikings for 15 seasons and co-created the NERF football, passed away on November 20, 2019, at the age of 80. His death was caused by kidney disease, according to his wife, Bonnie.

A Football Player and a Businessman

Cox was born on December 11, 1938, in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. He played college football at the University of Pittsburgh and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and the New York Titans in 1961. However, he never played for either team due to a back injury that shifted his focus to kicking.

He joined the Vikings in 1963 and became their all-time leading scorer with 1,365 points. He also played in all four of their Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s. He led the NFL in scoring in 1969 and 1970 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1970. He retired in 1977 as the second all-time leading scorer in NFL history, behind George Blanda.

Cox was not only a football player, but also a businessman and an inventor. He co-created the NERF football with John Mattox, a former Vikings ball boy, in the early 1970s. The idea came from Cox’s desire to make a soft football that could be kicked indoors without breaking anything. The NERF football became a popular toy that sold millions of units worldwide.

Cox also ran a successful chiropractic clinic in Minnesota for over 35 years. He was passionate about helping people with their health and wellness. He was also involved in various community and charitable activities, such as the Vikings Children’s Fund and the Fred Cox Golf Classic.

A Legend and a Friend

Cox was widely respected and admired by his former teammates, coaches, and fans. He was described as “the ultimate team player” by Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant, who praised Cox’s versatility and athleticism. He was also a close friend of Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who said Cox was “a great brain and a great thinker”.

Cox was honored by the Vikings as one of their 50 Greatest Players and a member of their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams. He was also inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame.

Cox is survived by his wife, Bonnie, his four children, and his six grandchildren. He will be missed by many as a legend, a friend, and a positive influence on the world.

Doms Desk

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