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Former QB Blair Kiel dead at 50

We went into the weekend chiding Les Miles for (more) petty comments regarding Gunner Kiel. How trivial that seems this morning.

Instead, we're talking about Kiel's uncle, former Notre Dame quarterback Blair Kiel, who died Sunday at the age of 50.

Blair Kiel was a heck of a signal-caller during his days with the Irish, from 1980-83. He had been the Irish's first four-year starter at the position since Gus Dorais in 1910-13. He attempted more passes than anyone in school history. He tossed the longest completion in school history, a 96-yarder to Joe Howard against Georgia Tech in 1981. The next year, he led the Irish to a win over unbeaten and top-ranked Pitt.

"He was my starting quarterback for two years and he was a great leader," former Irish running back Allen Pinkett, who played with Kiel in 1982 and 1983, told the Chicago Tribune.

"I sort of viewed him the same way I viewed (former Irish All-American) Dave Duerson, and Dave was my captain and Dave was the guy I really tried to emulate the most. Being the quarterback at Notre Dame is unlike any other position the United States. So to be able to handle all that pressure with the grace that he did it with, I definitely learned a lot from Blair. He was always a model of consistency in terms of keeping your head up."

Funeral arrangements are pending. Notre Dame does not practice again until Wednesday. Whenever Gunner Kiel does return to the field, it will likely be with a heavy heart. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Kiel family and to the Notre Dame football program.