People who don't follow the history of the NFL may not know his name but he helped shape the childhood of many.
Fred Cox was not just a placekicker for the Minnesota Vikings. He was also a co-inventor of the Nerf football, ESPN reported.
Cox died Wednesday at the age of 80.
The Vikings made the announcement of Cox's death on Twitter.
Cox, who was from Monongahela, Pennsylvania, was drafted by the Cleveland Browns as a running back. But after a back injury he became a kicker, joining the Vikings in 1963, ESPN reported.
Cox had the idea for a soft football that would allow kids to kick it without getting leg injuries. That was in 1972. He worked with John Mattox and made a mold of a football and filled it with foam rubber, creating the NERF football. His agreement with Parker Brothers for the football, which transferred to Hasbro continued to bring income in for Cox, the newspaper reported.
NERF stands for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam, CBS Sports reported.
"The weight was right. When you threw it, it flew like a football," Cox said, according to ESPN.
He was a chiropractor for 16 years after he retired from the NFL, the Pioneer Press reported.
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