Those of us of a certain age remember when NFL placekickers were the outcasts of the league. They were often much smaller men and their helmets only had one crossbar instead of the big birdcage that "real players" had. Fred Cox was one of those old school kickers. In fact, he was one of the last straight-on style kickers in the league. Fred Cox died Wednesday.

However, the reason why my and our remembrance of Mr. Cox is worthy of your time has a lot less to do with the fact that he is the Minnesota Vikings all-time leading scorer and more to do with the legacy he left behind for kids like you and me. Fred Cox along with a business partner invented the Nerf Football.

For kids who were kids in the 70s, the Nerf Football was a staple in every home and on every playground. It was soft and squishy like a Nerf Ball but it had a tougher outer skin and you could throw it, catch it, and kick it just like a real football.

Cox said he got the idea for the Nerf Football as a way to prevent leg injuries among kids. He and his partner took the idea to Parker Brothers who at the time were having great success with the Nerf Ball. They loved the idea and the rest is history.

Actually it's more than history, it's my history and probably your history too. So, Rest in Peace Mr. Cox. I never met you but I bet I would have liked you. Your bio says you never missed an NFL game during your 15 year NFL career. That's Cal Ripken Jr.impressive if you ask me.

Also, you cared about kids and their safety and their enjoyment of a game that so many of us love. That's something a lot of today's athletes don't comprehend. So I admire you for that reason too.

Fred Cox was 80 at the time of his passing.

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