Legendary Minnesotan – The Viking Who Invented the Nerf Football
This week's Legendary Minnesotan is Frederick William Cox. In Minnesota he's famous as a Vikings kicker for 15 seasons starting in 1963. He their all-time leader in scoring and field goals (1,365 points and 282, respectively). Plus, he's one of 11 Vikings to play in all of their 1970's Super Bowl appearances (that's four, in case you're curious).
But this week, he's not legendary because he's a famous NFL Viking. Nope, there's something else that makes Fred Cox legendary. Legendary because he invented something that almost every child in the USA knows about, grew up playing, and certainly 90% of the NFL played with as kids.
Born December 11, 1938 in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, William Cox developed...the Nerf Football while still playing for the Vikings.
In 1972, while still playing for the Vikings, Cox came up with the idea of a soft football to prevent leg injuries to kids. He and partner John Mattox, a local entrepreneur, took a mold of a full-sized football and injected it with soft foam rubber material. The result was the Nerf football. (ESPN)
They took their idea to a Minnesota game maker that passed on the idea. Parker Brothers did NOT pass, and at it's peak, Nerf Football sales were around $8,000,000. Cox and his partners got a percent of every Nerf Football sold. But he didn't count on that for money. Fred also opened a chiropractic clinic.
Fred Cox may have started out life in Pennsylvania, but he passed away in 2019 a 100% true Legendary Minnesotan.
The NFL won't let their YouTube videos show on our website, but click here to see a pretty cool NFL FILMS video with Fred Cox and his Nerf Football.
One last thing about Nerf. This is a screen shot from the Nerf commercial up there. If you didn't watch it, please go back and watch it. I know it's just a commercial, but it's awesomely 70's...and the end zone dance will make you smile out loud.
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Other Articles from the Legendary Series
Legendary Minnesotan: The 9-Year-Old That Won A 10k By Mistake
Legend or Lie: Minnesota Used to Have Cold Case Playing Cards
Legendary Minnesotans - The Captured Confederate Flag We Won't Give Back
Minnesota Legend - The Inspector That Saved A Kid's Hot Dog Stand
Listen to James Rabe and Jessica Williams Weekday from 6 - 10 AM on Y-105 FM
Switching from legendary to legend, do you believe in Bigfoot? If you do (or even if you don't, but need an excuse for a road-trip), plan a trip to see if you can find him!