Blair Kiel, a former four-year starting quarterback for Notre Dame, was found dead Sunday afternoon at his Columbus, Indiana home. He was 50 years old.
According to the Chicago Tribune, authorities are "certain" that Kiel died of natural causes, but reports that his death was caused by a heart attack are not proven at this time. He also suffered from the gastrointestinal affliction Crohn's disease, but that illness is not known to be connected to his heart issues.
Kiel needed only four games to win the starting job for the Fighting Irish in 1980, his freshman season in South Bend. He led the Irish to a 23-17-2 record as a starter, completing 48 percent of his passes. He also averaged 40.7 yards per punt. Kiel still holds the school record for longest pass play with a 96-yard pass to Joe Howard against Georgia Tech in 1981.
An 11th-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kiel's first game action did not come until 1986 with the Indianapolis Colts. He started one game for the Colts and two for the Green Bay Packers. Over his seven-year NFL career, Kiel completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,296 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Kiel's nephew Gunner was one of the top quarterback prospects in the class of 2012, committing to Notre Dame earlier this year after breaking a verbal commitment to Indiana. Gunner Kiel is expected to compete for the Irish starting job this season.
In recent years, Kiel had multiple run-ins with the law. He was arrested following a 2009 public intoxication and domestic battery incident at Indianapolis's Victory Field and was also arrested for drunk driving in 2010.