Cary Blanchard, who was a first-team All-Pro kicker for the Indianapolis Colts in 1996 and a 1997 Pro Bowl selection, has died. He was 47.
According to the Associated Press, Blanchard's ex-wife, Mindi, believes Cary passed away unexpectedly of a massive heart attack, although an autopsy is yet to be performed.
Colts Owner Jim Irsay on Wednesday tweeted out his condolences to Blanchard and his loved ones:
Cary Blanchard went undrafted out of Oklahoma State, and after spending training camp in 1991 with the Dallas Cowboys, he went on to play for the Sacramento franchise in the World Football League before ultimately signing with the New Orleans Saints — and then the New York Jets — in 1992.
His best professional seasons, however, came in Indianapolis from 1995 to 1997. During the 1996 season, Blanchard led the AFC in scoring, and for his efforts, was named first-team All-Pro and selected to the Pro Bowl.
"The best part was I got picked up four games into that '95 season, and finished up that year real well. And then to come back in '96, it was like a dream come true," Blanchard told NFLPlayerEngagement.com."You just know you can do it. You know if somebody would just give you a chance and stay with you, you can show what you can do."
During his Colts career, Blanchard hit three especially memorable kicks for the Colts:
• Jan. 7, 1996: After defeating the host San Diego Chargers, 35-20, in the Wild Card Round of the 1995 playoffs, the Colts again had to go on the road for the Divisional Round, this time to face the Kansas City Chiefs. After going to halftime tied at 7 (thanks to a five-yard pass from Jim Harbaugh to Floyd Turner, and Blanchard's extra point), Blanchard converted what would be a game-winning, 30-yard field goal in the third quarter to give the Colts a 10-7 victory to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
• Sept. 15, 1996: In Week 3 against the Cowboys at Texas Stadium, the Colts cut a 21-3 first-half deficit to just three points, 24-22, with 51 seconds remaining, when Blanchard lined up for a 43-yard field goal. The kick — in his home state, no less — was good, giving Indianapolis all it needed to escape with a 25-24 victory to move to 3-0 on the year. Blanchard had four field goals on the day.
• Dec. 1, 1996: In a Week 14 matchup against the Buffalo Bills at the RCA Dome, the Colts desperately needed a victory to remain in the playoff hunt. Although Blanchard had missed two field goals earlier in the game — one of which was blocked — his 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter tied the game at 10 and ultimately forced overtime. During that overtime period, after the Bills' offense couldn't get any closer than its own 49, Blanchard would hit a 49-yard field goal to give Indianapolis a huge win, 13-10, to move to 7-6 on the year.
Blanchard also played one season each with the Washington Redskins (1998), New York Giants (1999) and Arizona Cardinals (2000). He converted 165-of-214 field goal attempts (77.1 percent) in his NFL career, and 188-of-190 (99 percent) of his extra-point attempts.
Blanchard is survived by his son, Blake, as well as Blake's wife, Tia; his daughter, Bayli; and his son, Braeden.
Mindi said the funeral will take place Friday at Church of the Servant in Oklahoma City.
"Cary was a family man who loved his children and his family more than anything," Mindi said, via the AP.