Even the Wall Street Journal ran an obituary about former Minnesota Vikings kicker Fred Cox, who died November 20 at eighty years of age.
The Journal covered his passing because Cox invented the Nerf football.
The Nerf and its competitor, the Itza football, were staples of my childhood. I did not know at the time, however, that Cox had invented the Nerf. NFL Films even devoted a segment to the Non-Expanding Recreational Foam.
And I didn’t realize just how much Cox had made from the toy: Royalties in execss of $200,000 a year, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
To this day, Fred Cox remains the leading scorer in Vikings franchise history, with 1,365 points. He played in 210 games from 1963 to 1977, was an All-Pro in 1969 and made the Pro Bowl in 1970.
He was among the last of the straight-on kickers, before NFL teams discovered soccer players. (Though after he retirned, the Vikings still clung to the straight-on style with Rick Danmeier.)
And, finally, here’s a clutch kick by Fred Cox: