Mel Blount is a name that will forever be associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers and their success in the 1970s. Widely considered one of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history, Blount’s legacy is defined by his physicality, toughness, and unparalleled ability to shut down opposing receivers. Let’s take a closer look at the career of this legendary football player, from his high school days to his NFL success, including his stats and achievements.
Mel Blount was born in Georgia in 1948 and attended Lyons High School in nearby Toombs County. There, he excelled as a multi-sport athlete, playing football, basketball, and track. It was on the gridiron, however, where Blount truly shone, earning All-State honors as a senior in 1966.
After graduating from high school, Blount enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he continued to play football. He was a standout player for the Jaguars, earning All-American honors in 1970 and helping lead his team to two Southwestern Athletic Conference championships.
Blount’s college stats are impressive. In 1970, he led Southern University in interceptions with six and punt return yards with 118. He was also a dangerous kick returner, averaging 28.6 yards per return. His outstanding play earned him first-team All-SWAC honors as a defensive back and a punt returner.
Blount was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round of the 1970 NFL Draft. He quickly became a key player for the team, starting at cornerback and earning a reputation as one of the most physical defenders in the league. His 6’3” frame and long arms made him a nightmare for opposing receivers, who struggled to get past his press coverage.
Blount’s early years in the NFL were marked by consistent improvement. In his rookie season, he recorded 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. By his third season, he had become a true shutdown corner, leading the NFL with 11 interceptions in 1975. That year, the Steelers won their first of four Super Bowl titles in a six-year span, thanks in large part to Blount’s dominant play on defense. He finished the season with 11 interceptions, earning him the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Blount continued to play at a high level throughout the rest of his career, earning five Pro Bowl selections and two first-team All-Pro nods. He retired after the 1983 season, having played his entire career with the Steelers.
Blount’s stats in the NFL are equally impressive. Over the course of his career, he recorded 57 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries, and 3 touchdowns. He also made an impact on special teams, returning 7 kickoffs for 156 yards and 1 touchdown, as well as 9 punts for 106 yards. His 57 interceptions are still the most in Steelers history and rank him tied for seventh all-time in NFL history.
Blount’s impact on the game of football extends far beyond his on-field accomplishments. After retiring from the NFL, he founded the Mel Blount Youth Home in Vidalia, Georgia, which provides a safe haven for at-risk children in the area. He also started the Mel Blount Celebrity Roast, an annual event that raises money for the Youth Home and other charities.
Blount’s legacy as a football player is firmly established, but his impact off the field is just as important. His dedication to helping children and giving back to his community is a testament to his character and values.
Chad Wilson is the owner of All Eyes DB Camp and author of "101 DB Tips". He played college football at the University of Miami and briefly in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks. Over his 15 year high school football coaching career, he tutored over a dozen Division I defensive backs and as a trainer has worked with NFL All Pros, first round draft picks, college football All Americans and Top 10 ranked high school football prospects.