Ex-NFL Kicker & Nerf Football Inventor Fred Cox Dies at 80

Fred Cox, a decorated kicker for the Minnesota Vikings and the man who invented the Nerf football, died on Wednesday at the age of 80. With the Vikings, Cox played in every game across 15 seasons, from 1963-1977, and is the team’s all-time leading scorer, with 1,365 points. “He had a great brain and was a great thinker,” former NFL star Fran Tarkenton told Vikings.com. “He was an intellect that I spent every morning with before we played a game. I spent more time with him than any other player. Fred was a special, special human being who will be missed.”  In 1972, Cox and his entrepreneur partner, John Mattox, devised a way to put foam inside of a full-size football, to stave off leg injuries in kids, and successfully brought it to toy company Parker Brothers. “The weight was right,” Cox told Vikings.com several years ago. “When you threw it, it flew like a football.” After retiring, Cox also became a chiropractor.