Back during an era when players didn’t have much protection in the form of padding, George Blanda was the model for longevity and stayed relatively injury free during his career. He played quarterback, placekicker, and even played some linebacker. He played for the Chicago Bears, Oakland Raiders, Houston Oilers, and the Baltimore Colts.
George Blanda played 26 seasons in the NFL and may be the greatest example of what perseverance in football is all about. The son of a coal miner Blanda what hard work was all about. In a rough and physical game George Blanda played until he was 48 (1 month away from 49). To many people, Blanda symbolized agelessness and was an inspiration to people to never quit doing what they love.
Blanda scored more points as a quarterback and a place-kicker than any other player in the history of the NFL. Some other career highlights are:
- 3 Time AFL Champ
- AFL Passing Leader in 1961
- MVP in 1970
- Played in 340 career games
- 2002 points (which is a record)
- 4 Time Pro Bowler
- Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981
By 1967, George Blanda had 17 yrs of professional football experience as a quarterback and place-kicker. At that time he thought that he would have to retire, but Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders gave him another chance. The first three years the Raiders only used him as a place kicker, but his chance to shine once again would happen in 1970. In the middle of a close game against the Steelers, the Raiders starting quarterback Daryle Lamonica injured his back and would be lost for the season. Raiders head coach, John Madden was faced with a tough decision. Should he play inexperienced Ken Stabler or go with the aging vet. Madden decided to go for experience and George Blanda was named starting quarterback once again.
It didn’t take long for Madden to realize that he made the right choice. Blanda threw a 29 yard TD on his first play from scrimmage. He then threw two more touchdown passes and kicked a field goal to lift the Raiders to victory. the next week he kicked a game winning 48 yard field goal with only seconds remaining on the clock. America soon fell in love with Blanda and he was an inspiration to everyone that your never too old to chase your dreams.
During the course of Blanda’s career he deservedly earned the nickname “The Grand Old Man”, and his 26 year career remains a record that may never be reached. Blanda passed away on September 27th, 2010 after a short illness, but the legendary stories will live on forever.
Interesting Facts About George Blanda
- He was a high school basketball star and dreamed of playing college at the Madison Square Garden.
- When Blanda retired he held 16 regular season and 21 championship game records.
- George Blanda was asked to endorse many products. He refused to advertise anything that he didn’t use himself. He only endorsed a breakfast cereal and the aftershave lotion that he used.
- The oldest starting quarterback of a Championship game
- One of only two football players to play in a span covering four decades. He played during the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s.