Fred McNeill, the former Minnesota linebacker who helped the Vikings reach two Super Bowls in his 12-year NFL career, has died. He was 63.
Wife Tia McNeill said he died Tuesday in Southern California of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He also suffered from dementia.
Drafted 17th overall in 1974, the former UCLA star played in Minnesota's Super Bowl losses in 1975 and 1977. In 167 regular-season games, he had 1,068 tackles, 13 sacks, seven interceptions and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. He appeared in 13 playoff games, and blocked a punt in the 1977 Super Bowl.
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''It is with great sadness that my best friend, roommate, and teammate, Fred McNeill passed away last evening,'' former Vikings linebacker Matt Blair posted on Facebook. ''He is in Heaven and I am sure he's singing up there! Please say a prayer for his family. ... I will miss him greatly!''
McNeill attended William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul at the end of his playing career and became a lawyer after retiring from the NFL.
''I was fortunate to enjoy both a business and personal relationship with Fred,'' Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren said. ''Fred was a great football player, an excellent lawyer and, most importantly, an outstanding person who carried himself with class, grace, dignity and humility.''
McNeill was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.