(May 6, 1952 – November 3, 2015)
Frederick Arnold McNeill, Esq. was born in Durham, North Carolina on May 6, 1952. He was the seventh of nine children born to Robert H. McNeill and Julia Mae Scarlett McNeill. He lived in Durham until the age of 12 when his family moved west to Baldwin Park, California. Fred attended Baldwin Park High School where he was a scholar and athlete. He excelled in multiple sports including basketball, track and his best sport, football. He won All-San Gabriel Valley and All-Southern Section honors as a running back and defensive lineman. Ultimately, Fred won a scholarship to the University of California Los Angeles where he became an All American and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Economics. He was voted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
In 1974, Fred was drafted by the National Football League in the first round out of UCLA by the Minnesota Vikings. He was the 17th pick overall. Strong, fast and durable, he retired in 1985 with more than 1,000 career tackles, placing him among the franchise’s leaders in that category. Fred played in two of the Vikings’ four Super Bowl games, 1975 and 1977. In the January 1977 Super Bowl against the Oakland Raiders, Fred blocked a punt by Hall of Fame punter, Ray Guy, the first time that had ever happened.
For 12 seasons, 1974-1985, Fred played linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings as a member of the Purple People Eaters. He played on defenses that led the NFC in fewest points allowed in 1976; led the NFL in fewest total yards allowed in 1975; and fewest passing yards allowed in 1976.
While playing with the Vikings, Fred met and married his wife, Tia Bordenave in 1988. They have two sons, Frederick Jr. and Gavin.
During his last campaign with the Vikings, Fred began his studies at the William Mitchell College of Law, where he graduated with his Juris Doctorate at the top of his class. He initially practiced law in Minnesota , then made a decision to move his family back to California. After passing the California bar, he first practiced with his brother, Robert H. McNeill, Jr., Esq. at his Los Angeles law firm of Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt, before going out on his own. Fred practiced law for 20 years until the effects of his illness forced him to retire.
Fred was first diagnosed with dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Later, he was formally diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He died of ALS on November 3, 2015 at the age of 63.
Fred was a unique individual who loved music, dancing and most of all people. He had a lot to brag about but he was completely without arrogance and full of humility. Everyone who met him was influenced by his warm smile, joyful spirit and zest for life. Fred came from a large loving family and he was especially committed to his children. He was quick to volunteer his time and energy to help others. Fred had a burning desire to work with young football players to teach them injury avoiding techniques for playing the game he loved.
Fred is survived by his wife; Tia McNeill, his children; Frederick McNeill and Gavin McNeill. Grandchild; Peace Marie McNeill and one grandson on the way. His siblings include; Donnie Eddings, Robert H. McNeill, Jr (wife Debra), Scarlett Wingate (husband Robert), Charles McNeill (wife Cynthia), Evelyn Chamois (husband Tyrone), Rodney McNeill (wife Pamela), Kim Walker, and Karen Kenney (husband Bobby). Mother in law; Doris Bordenave, sisters in law; Cheryl Bordenave, Layne Bordenave, Juana Duckworth. Aunts and Uncles; Charles and Charmaine Scarlett, Janice McNeill, Marie McNeill, Pat McNeill, LaVonde McNeill. Many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends whom he loved and who love him.