Joe Blahak

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Joe Blahak
No. 27, 21
Position: Cornerback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1950-08-29)August 29, 1950
Place of birth: Columbus, Nebraska
Date of death: April 25, 2016(2016-04-25) (aged 65)
Place of death: Lincoln, Nebraska
Career information
High school: Columbus (NE) Scotus Central
College: Nebraska
NFL draft: 1973 / Round: 8 / Pick: 183
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 44
Games started: 1
Interceptions: 3
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Joseph Philip "Joe" Blahak (August 29, 1950 – April 25, 2016) was a professional football player who played defensive back for several National Football League (NFL) teams in the mid-1970s.[1] He played college football at Nebraska under head coach Bob Devaney, and was a member of the 1970 and 1971 undefeated national championship teams. Blahak played high school football at Scotus Central Catholic High School in Columbus, Nebraska.

Collegiate career[edit]

During his junior season at Nebraska in 1971, Blahak was involved in a controversial play on national television. In the "Game of the Century" against #2 Oklahoma on Thanksgiving, he was accused of clipping Sooner punter Joe Wylie during a punt return that Johnny Rodgers returned 72 yards for a touchdown, but was not penalized.[2] He forced a fumble and recovered another in the game.[3] He also ended Alabama's best scoring chance in the 1972 Orange Bowl by intercepting a Terry Davis pass in the end zone; Nebraska crushed the #2 Crimson Tide 38–6 for the consensus national title.[4] In his senior season, the 1972 team finished fourth and won a third consecutive Orange Bowl, defeating Notre Dame, 40–6.

NFL career[edit]

Blahak was one of ten Huskers selected in the 1973 NFL Draft, taken in the 8th round by the Houston Oilers, the 183rd overall pick. He was claimed off waivers the next year by the Minnesota Vikings, where he played two years before going to the newly formed Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1976 NFL Expansion Draft.[5] Blahak was an opening-day starter for the Bucs, but only played with the team for two games. He was one of two players cut to make room for newly signed receiver Morris Owens, and running back Rod McNeill.[6] He was picked up toward the end of the season by the New England Patriots,[7] and returned to the Vikings in 1977 before retiring.

Personal life[edit]

On November 28, 1970, he married Diane Melliger and they had three children.[8] After his NFL career, he worked in Lincoln, Nebraska for an insurance company. He died suddenly of an apparent heart attack.[9]

Awards[edit]

  • 1st team All-Big Eight, 1971
  • UPI 2nd-team All-American, 1972

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ex-Husker Joe Blahak, who threw key block for Rodgers, dies". USA Today. 25 April 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  2. ^ Babcock, Mike, Michael Babcock, Trev Albert. "Go Big Red: The Complete Fan's Guide to Nebraska Football". 1998: Macmillan. p.155
  3. ^ Babcock, Mike. "Stadium Stories: Nebraska Cornhuskers: Colorful Tales of the Scarlet and Cream". 2004: Globe Pequot. p.76
  4. ^ Wire services. "'Huskers maul Tide 38-6". St. Petersburg Times. 2 January 1972
  5. ^ "Bay Buc Draftees". St. Petersburg Times. 1 April 1976
  6. ^ Zier, Patrick. "Bucs' McKay is Ready, But How About Team?" The Lakeland Ledger. 25 September 1976
  7. ^ Wire Reports. "Simpson, Dolphins Collide". The Boca Raton News. 2 December 1976
  8. ^ "Joseph Blahak Obituary". roperandsons.com. Roper & Sons. Retrieved 18 May 2016. 
  9. ^ Enterprises, Lee (April 25, 2016). "Blahak remembered for fun-loving spirit". The Columbus Telegram. Retrieved 18 May 2016.