Former Notre Dame quarterback and punter Blair Kiel, who finished his Irish football career having attempted more passes than anyone in Notre Dame history, died of natural causes Sunday afternoon in Columbus, Ind. He was 50.
According to WISH-TV of Indianapolis Kiel also had Crohn's disease.
Kiel, the uncle of Notre Dame freshman quarterback Gunner Kiel, played for the Irish from 1980-83 after leading Columbus East to its only state title in football in the fall of 1979.
He started all or major parts of all four seasons in South Bend, qualifying him as the first four-year starter for Notre Dame at the quarterback position since Gus Dorais in 1910-13.
He completed 297 career throws (only Terry Hanratty with 304 had completed more at the time Kiel finished his college career) on 609 attempts for 3,650 yards, 17 touchdowns and 32 interceptions.
He also punted 260 times for a 40.67-yard average that ranked second only behind Bill Shakespeare’s 40.71-yard mark (Kiel set a Notre Dame career mark with his 10,534 punting yards). Kiel also rushed 165 times for 164 career yards and five TDs.
Kiel came on the scene for the final offensive series of Notre Dame’s 29-27 win over Michigan in 1980, leading the Irish on the final drive that produced Harry Oliver’s game-winning field goal — and held onto the starting signal-calling job most of the remainder of his Irish career.
An 11th-round pick of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1984, Kiel played for Tampa in 1984-85, Indianapolis in 1986-87 and Green Bay in 1988 (he played in one game that season) and also in 1990 and 1991. He also was listed on Canadian Football League rosters in Saskatchewan (1989) and Toronto (1992) and an Arena Football League roster with Cincinnati (1993).
In 25 career NFL games — including three starts — Kiel completed 108 of 193 passes for 1,296 yards and eight touchdowns and had seven interceptions.
He also rushed 16 times for 105 yards and a touchdown and punted 17 times with a 37.1-yard average.
Funeral arrangements are pending.