You know you are great when the NFL changes rules because opposing teams cannot do anything against you. Mel Blount was such a player. He must have been thought about when the term “shutdown corner” was coined since he was the definition of the phrase.
His physical style of play made him one of the most feared defensive backs in the game at a time when pass interference rules, and contact at the snap of the ball was more relaxed than it is now.
A third-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1970, he had ideal size, speed, and quickness for the position, plus the toughness and mental ability to adjust his coverage tactics and excel despite rule changes that favored receivers.
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 known for his rugged style of play, especially the “bump-and-run” pass defense because of his size and speed. He would physically overpowered pass receivers, thereby shutting down one half of the field.
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, and 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.
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