Joe Blahak
No. 27, 21
Personal information
Born:(1950-08-29)August 29, 1950
Columbus, Nebraska
Died:April 25, 2016(2016-04-25) (aged 65)
Lincoln, Nebraska
Height:5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight:187 lb (85 kg)
Career information
High school:Columbus (NE) Scotus Central
NFL Draft:1973 / Round: 8 / Pick: 183
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Games played:44
Games started:1
Player stats at · PFR

Joseph Philip Blahak (August 29, 1950 – April 25, 2016) was a professional football player, a defensive back for several National Football League (NFL) teams in the mid-1970s.[1] He played college football at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln under head coach Bob Devaney, and was a member of the 1970 and 1971 undefeated national championship teams.

Early years

Born and raised in Columbus, Nebraska, Blahak played football for its Scotus Central Catholic High School and graduated in 1969.[2]

Collegiate career

During his junior season at Nebraska in 1971, #27 Blahak was involved in a controversial play on national television. In the first quarter of the "Game of the Century" against #2 Oklahoma on Thanksgiving, he was accused of clipping Sooner punter Joe Wylie halfway through a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown by Johnny Rodgers,[3][4] but was not penalized.[5][6] Blahak forced a fumble and recovered another in the game.[7] He also ended Alabama's best scoring chance in the Orange Bowl by intercepting a Terry Davis pass in the end zone; Nebraska crushed the #2 Crimson Tide 38–6 for a 13–0 record and the consensus national title.[8][9][10][11][12]

In his senior season in 1972, Nebraska finished fourth and won a third consecutive Orange Bowl, defeating Notre Dame, 40–6. In his three seasons as a starter on the NU varsity,[13] the Huskers were 33–2–2 (.919).

NFL career

Blahak was one of ten Huskers selected in the 1973 NFL Draft, taken in the eighth round by the Houston Oilers, the 183rd overall pick. He was claimed off waivers the next year by the Minnesota Vikings, where he played two years before going to the newly formed Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1976 NFL Expansion Draft.[14] Blahak was an opening-day starter for the Bucs, but only played with the team for two games. He was one of two players cut to make room for newly signed receiver Morris Owens, and running back Rod McNeill.[15] He was picked up toward the end of the season by the New England Patriots,[16] and returned to the Vikings in 1977 before retiring.

Personal life

On November 28, 1970, he married Diane Melliger of Columbus and they had three children.[2] After his NFL career, he returned to Lincoln and worked for an insurance company. He died suddenly at age 65 of an apparent heart attack.[17]



  1. ^ "Ex-Husker Joe Blahak, who threw key block for Rodgers, dies". USA Today. Associated Press. 25 April 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Joseph Blahak Obituary". Roper & Sons. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  3. ^ Jenkins, Dan (December 6, 1971). "Nebraska rides high". Sports Illustrated. p. 22.
  4. ^ "#76: Johnny on the spot". (100 greatest moments in sports history). March 2, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  5. ^ York, Randy (April 25, 2016). "Joe Blahak, star on two national championship teams, dies". University of Nebraska Athletics. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  6. ^ Babcock, Mike, Michael Babcock, Trev Albert. "Go Big Red: The Complete Fan's Guide to Nebraska Football". 1998: Macmillan. p.155
  7. ^ Babcock, Mike. "Stadium Stories: Nebraska Cornhuskers: Colorful Tales of the Scarlet and Cream". 2004: Globe Pequot. p.76
  8. ^ Reed, Delbert (January 2, 1972). "Cornhuskers kill Crimson Tide dream, 38-6". Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama). p. 1B.
  9. ^ "Nebraska rips Tide, still No. 1". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 2, 1972. p. 1, sports.
  10. ^ Jenkins, Dan (January 10, 1972). "All yours, Nebraska". Sports Illustrated: 8.
  11. ^ Wire services. "'Huskers maul Tide 38-6". St. Petersburg Times. 2 January 1972
  12. ^ "Huskers solid No. 1". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. January 4, 1972. p. 20.
  13. ^ Kaipust, Rich (April 26, 2016). "Infectious personality made Joe Blahak a leader for Huskers". Omaha World Herald. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  14. ^ "Bay Buc Draftees". St. Petersburg Times. 1 April 1976
  15. ^ Zier, Patrick. "Bucs' McKay is Ready, But How About Team?" The Lakeland Ledger. 25 September 1976
  16. ^ Wire Reports. "Simpson, Dolphins Collide". The Boca Raton News. 2 December 1976
  17. ^ Enterprises, Lee (April 25, 2016). "Blahak remembered for fun-loving spirit". The Columbus Telegram. Retrieved 18 May 2016.