Former Baltimore Colts K Toni Linhart died Sunday morning in Baltimore County after a battle with cancer. Linhart was 70.
The Austrian-born kicker came to the National Football League in 1972 (spending his first season with the New Orleans Saints) after playing soccer professionally for seven years in his home country, including six appearances with the Austrian national team.
Linhart overcame a relationship with Charm City fans that was at times frigid when he kicked a 31 yard field goal in a dense fog at Memorial Stadium in December 1975. After Bert Jones lead the Colts downfield, Linhart (who was described in that week’s Sports Illustrated as “having a history of the shanks”) connected on the kick to give the Colts a 10-7 overtime win over the Miami Dolphins. The win helped the Colts to a 10-4 record and an AFC East title, a season result that seemed very unlikely when the Colts started the season 1-4.
Linhart would go on to lead the NFL in scoring in 1976 and reached the Pro Bowl in both 1977 and 1978. He finished his career with the New York Jets in 1979.
Former Colts QB Marty Domres told the Baltimore Sun ”Toni was never flamboyant about his abilities.” He added about the man he once held kicks for “he was low-key and understated about everything. I doubt that a lot of people even think of him when it comes to Colts’ lore.”
Linhart lived in the Baltimore area in his final years and attended many Colts reunion events.