Blount in September, 2010
| Date of birth: April 10, 1948|
|College: Southern University|
|NFL Draft: 1970 / Round: 3 / Pick: 53|
|Debuted in 1970 for the Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Last played in 1983 for the Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at NFL.com|
|Pro Football Hall of Fame|
Melvin Cornell Blount (born April 10, 1948 in Vidalia, Georgia) is a former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back and six-time All-Pro. He is considered the greatest ever to play his position in the NFL. His physical style of play made him one of the most feared defensive backs in the game at a time when pass interference rules were less stringent than they are now.
The early years of his life were spent in poverty on a Georgia farm. But by college, Blount was a star in baseball, football, basketball, and track. Upon graduation, he was offered a scholarship to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While there, he was a Pro-Scouts All-American pick as both safety and cornerback.
Blount was the prototype cornerback of his era and a major reason why the Pittsburgh 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 the size, speed, and quickness for the position, plus the toughness and his mental ability to adjust his coverage tactics and excel despite 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. Blount was equally effective playing either zone or man-to-man defense. Known for his rugged style of play, his specialty was the “bump-and-run” pass defense. Because of his size and speed, he physically overpowered pass receivers.
Midway through his career, however, the rules regarding pass coverage were changed, making such harassment of a receiver illegal. The rule would come to be named the Mel Blount Rule. Blount ended 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 totaled 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 Pittsburgh drive that resulted in a go-ahead touchdown in a 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Following his football career, Blount became Director of Player Relations for the NFL, serving in the position from 1983 to 1990. He also became active in charity work. 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.
In 1989, he was inducted into 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.
- Pro Football Hall of Fame: Member profile
- 75th Anniversary All-Time Team: NFL.com
- Georgia Sports Hall of Fame
- Mel Blount Youth Home