Skip to content

Former Irish QB Blair Kiel passes away at 50

Apr 9, 2012, 11:52 AM EDT

Blair Kiel

Former Irish quarterback Blair Kiel died Sunday at the age of 50. He reportedly suffered what is believed to be a heart attack while at a relative’s home for Easter and was rushed to the hospital, but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Leaving Notre Dame as the school record holder for passes attempted, not to mention a career average of over 40 yards a punt, Kiel spent a combined five seasons in the NFL with the Buccaneers, who drafted him in the 11th round, the Colts and the Packers.

Here’s the official release from University of Notre Dame:

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Former University of 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.
A Columbus, Ind., product, Kiel played for the Irish from 1980-83 and started all or major parts of all four seasons, 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 609attempts 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 epic 1980 29-27 win over Michigan, led 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.
As a freshman in 1980, Kiel led the Irish to the number-one ranking and a Sugar Bowl matchup with top-rated Georgia. For the season he completed 48 of 124 throws for 531 yards. He also rushed 71 times for 148 yards and three TDs—and he played more minutes in 1980 (250) than any freshman Notre Dame quarterback since Dorais.
As a sophomore in ’81 he completed 67 of 151 for 936 yards and seven TDs—to go with 31 rushes for 53 yards and one TD. In 1982 as a junior Kiel connected on 118 of 219 passes for 1,273 yards and three TDs. His .539 completion percentage that year ranked fourth all-time at that point in the Notre Dame records. As a senior in ’83, Kiel hit 64 of 115 passes for 910 yards and seven TDs.
In the 1982 opener (the first night game at Notre Dame Stadium) against Michigan, Kiel completed 15 of 22 passes for 141 yards in the 23-17 Irish win. Then in the season finale at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Kiel completed 11 of 19 passes for 151 yards in the 19-18 Irish victory. He also helped the Irish to a win that season over number-one-ranked and unbeaten Pittsburgh.
Kiel set the record for the longest pass completion in Notre Dame history – a 96-yarder to Joe Howard against Georgia Tech in 1981.
He was a former prep all-star at Columbus East (Ind.) High School, throwing for 4,214 yards and leading East to a state title as a senior in 1979.
An 11th-round pick of the NFL Tampa Bay Bucs 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).
Blair Kiel’s nephew, Gunner Kiel, is a freshman quarterback on the 2012 Notre Dame football roster.
Funeral arrangements are pending.

  1. dickasman - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    adios amigos…you’re in a better place bud lemme tell ya! u don’t have to read about dumbas facebook and twatter garbage and deal with crooked US politics anymore.

    See you soon!

  2. ccad05 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Was just reading another blogger trashing gunner and Blair on another post about blairs death. Blog name ‘foreverlsu’. Stay classy tiger fans and faculty. Stay classy.

    • nudeman - Apr 9, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      In order to “stay” classy, one must have to “be” or have “been” classy in the first place

      Was does it say that an entire fandom (or even just a few lone wolves) would trash a man who has died all too young … just because his nephew decided to go to school somewhere else?

      One more reason to dislike the SEC

  3. irish4006 - Apr 9, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    R.I.P. Blair Kiel… ND Nation prays for you and your family.

  4. ccad05 - Apr 9, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    That was sarcasm

    • nudeman - Apr 9, 2012 at 8:23 PM

      Uh … got that


  5. mtflsmitty - Apr 9, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    I was at the game in 1980 when Keil came in for the last series against Michigan. I was in the same end zone where Harry Oliver kicked what I recall was a 52 yarder, which in those days was a massive boot. My dad, brothers and I all agreed after the game that the goal posts seems to bend slightly to allow the football to sneak above the cross bar.

    Rest in peace, BK (B. Keil that is)

    • fredshaheen - Apr 10, 2012 at 6:03 PM

      Here is a video link to Oliver’s kick.

  6. nudeman - Apr 14, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    With all the focus this week on a guy who just wasn’t happy at ND and was a loudmouth about it, I thought I’d post a message about someone who LOVED ND.

    Blair Kiel will go down as probably an average ND qb, but that’s not the point here.

    Good person, loyal ND’er, and gone way too early.

    If you’ve ever heard young Gunner speak you know this must be one classy extended family. I’m sure they miss him terribly. Blair Kiel: May you rest in peace.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!