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Melvin Cornell Blount (born April 10, 1948 in Vidalia, Georgiamarker) 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.

Early life

The early years of his life were spent growing up in poverty on a Georgia farm. But by college, Mel had been a star in baseball, football, basketball, and track. Upon graduation, he was offered a scholarship to Southern Universitymarker in Baton Rouge, Louisianamarker. While there, he was a Pro-Scouts All-American pick as both safety and cornerback.

Playing career

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 1970s. 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 Universitymarker, 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, Georgiamarker, 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.

Blount, who was named the NFL's most valuable defensive player in 1975 by the Associated Press, earned all-pro acclaim in 1975, 1976, 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 Pittsburghmarker drive that resulted in a go-ahead touchdown in a 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

After playing

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, Pennsylvaniamarker, near Pittsburgh.

Unlike most of his fellow Steeler teammates that are also in the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker, 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 Famemarker 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.


Mel Blount has 6 children. One son and one daughter outside of marriage, one daughter from his first marriage, and three sons from his current/second marriage.

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