Fred McNeill
No. 54
Personal information
Born:(1952-05-06)May 6, 1952
Durham, North Carolina
Died:November 3, 2015(2015-11-03) (aged 63)
Los Angeles, California
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
NFL Draft:1974 / Round: 1 / Pick: 17
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at · PFR

Frederick Arnold McNeill (May 6, 1952 – November 3, 2015) was an American professional football player who was a linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL) for 12 seasons from 1974-1985. He played college football for the UCLA Bruins. In 1973, he was named to the All-Coast/Conference First Team.[1] McNeil was selected by the Vikings in the first round of the 1974 NFL Draft with the 17th overall selection. He was the first person to have been diagnosed with CTE while alive and have it confirmed following his death.

Professional career

He played on defenses that led the NFC in fewest points allowed in 1976 and the NFL in fewest total yards allowed in 1975 and fewest passing yards allowed in 1976.

McNeill appeared in 2 Super Bowls with the Vikings, Super Bowl IX and Super Bowl XI. McNeill blocked a punt in Super Bowl XI.

Later years

During his last campaign with the Vikings, he began his studies at the William Mitchell College of Law, where he graduated at the top of his class. He eventually became a partner with a Minneapolis, Minnesota area law firm following his NFL career.[2]

McNeill was voted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.[3]

In his later years he was diagnosed with dementia, and was formally diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 2009.[4] In March 2014 he received a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease). He died of ALS on November 3, 2015 at the age of 63.[5] Following his death Doctor Bennet Omalu conducted an autopsy on McNeil and confirmed the CTE diagnosis.[2]

Personal life

McNeill was married to Tia McNeill and they had two sons, Fred Jr. and Gavin. McNeill was the unnamed individual in a study published online in the journal Neurosurgery, where evidence of CTE was observed during scans while he was still alive and confirmed during an autopsy following his death. These results may help in detecting CTE in living individuals and help to improve understanding and treatment.


  1. ^ 1975 UCLA Media Guide, UCLA Athletic News Bureau, 1975
  2. ^ a b Kounang, Nadia (2016-02-04), "CTE in the NFL: The tragedy of Fred McNeill", Cable News Network, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., retrieved 2016-02-04
  3. ^ UCLA Athletics Announces 2012 Hall of Fame Class,, May 4, 2012
  4. ^ Laskas, Jeanne Marie. "The People V. Football," GQ (magazine), March 2011.
  5. ^ "Ex-Vikings linebacker Fred McNeill dies at 63". 4 November 2015.