Former Minnesota Vikings kicker Fred Cox, the leading scorer in franchise history, died Wednesday night at the age of 80. He had been placed in hospice care at his Monticello, Minn., home, and suffered from kidney failure.
"The Vikings mourn the loss of Fred Cox, one of our proudest legends and a member of the 50 Greatest Vikings," the team said in a statement Thursday. "A respected teammate and friend, Fred's football career as the Vikings all-time leading scorer set the stage for a life where he went on to achieve great things in business and in his community. Fred's positive energy, strength in his faith and passion for life will be missed."
Retiring following the 1977 season, Cox totaled 1,365 points in his 15-year NFL career, all spent with the Vikings beginning in 1963. Playing in all 210 regular-season games during that time, he made 282 of 455 field-goal attempts (62 percent) and 519 of 539 extra-point tries (93.6 percent). In his rookie season, he also punted, averaging 38.7 yards a kick.
Though he was drafted as a running back by the Cleveland Browns in 1961, Cox suffered a back injury that led to his kicking career.
His career point total is more than twice the number attained by former Vikings receiver and Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter (670), who ranks second.
Every season from 1963-73, Cox led the team in scoring. An All-Pro (1969) and Pro Bowl (1970) pick, Cox, a native of Monongahela, Pa., was a member of four Vikings teams that went to the Super Bowl. Only 10 other Vikings can claim that feat.
"Fred was the ultimate team player for us," said Bud Grant, the former Vikings coach who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "He took part in all of our scout teams, playing running back or whatever we asked of him. He was a great asset to our team, a true credit to the team and his community. If you saw those games, he always stood right next to me on the sideline because he was such a big part of what we were doing with field position and knew the game so well."
Cox is also known for teaming up with Minneapolis' John Mattox to invent the NERF football in 1972. He also worked as a chiropractor in Minnesota before he retired at the age of 50.
--Field Level Media