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George Blanda

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George Blanda

George Blanda
Blanda on a 1955 Bowman football card
No. 64, 22, 16
Position: Quarterback, Kicker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1927-09-17)September 17, 1927
Place of birth: Youngwood, Pennsylvania
Date of death: September 27, 2010(2010-09-27) (aged 83)
Place of death: Alameda, California
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 215 lb (98 kg)
Career information
College: Kentucky
NFL draft: 1949 / Round: 12 / Pick: 119
Career history
Career highlights and awards

Records

  • Played more seasons (26) than anyone in NFL history
  • Held Career Pro Football points record with 2,002 (1971–2000)
Career NFL statistics
Pass attempts: 4,007
Pass completions: 1,911
TDINT: 236–277
Passing Yards: 26,920
QB Rating: 60.6
Points scored: 2,002
Stats at NFL.com
Pro Football Hall of Fame

George Frederick Blanda ("The Grand Old Man" or "The Fossil") (September 17, 1927 – September 27, 2010) was an American football quarterback and placekicker. Blanda has the distinction of having played 26 seasons of professional football, the most in the sport's history, and had scored more points than anyone in history at the time of his retirement. Blanda retired from pro football in 1976 at the age of 48. He was one of only two players to play in four different decades (John Carney 1988-2010, is the other), and he holds the record for most extra points kicked.[1] He was married to Betty Harris from December 17, 1949 until his death on September 27, 2010. He has two children. Blanda was the son of a Slovak-born Pittsburgh-area coal miner.

Contents

  • Collegiate career 1
  • Professional career 2
    • Chicago Bears 2.1
    • Houston Oilers 2.2
    • Oakland Raiders 2.3
  • Career regular season statistics 3
  • Records and honors 4
  • Death 5
  • References in popular culture 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Collegiate career

Blanda was a quarterback and kicker at Kentucky. Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who later won fame and set countless records at Southeastern Conference rival Alabama, arrived in his sophomore year, following a 1–9 season. The Wildcats lost three games in each of the next three years.

Years later, returning to the University of Kentucky and recalling the time he met Bryant, Blanda said, "I thought this must be what God looks like."

Blanda was the starting quarterback his last two seasons at Kentucky (1947–1948), compiling 120 completions in 242 passes (49.6 percent completions), 1,451 yards and 12[2] touchdowns.

Professional career

Chicago Bears

Blanda was signed by the quarterback and placekicker, Blanda also saw time on the defensive side of the ball at linebacker. It would not be until 1953 that Blanda would emerge as the Bears' top signal caller, but an injury the following year effectively ended his first-string status. For the next four years, he was used mostly in a kicking capacity. Later commenting on his testy relationship with Halas, Blanda noted, "he was too cheap to even buy me a kicking shoe."[1] Blanda later reflected that by the 1950s the pro game had moved beyond Halas, who seemed to lack the interest he had earlier.

Houston Oilers

Blanda retired after the 1958 NFL season because of Halas' insistence on only using him as a kicker, but returned in 1960 upon the formation of the American Football League. He signed with the Houston Oilers as both a quarterback and kicker. He was derided by the sports media as an "NFL Reject", but he went on to lead the Oilers to the first two league titles in AFL history, and he was the All-AFL quarterback and won AFL Player of the Year honors in 1961. During that season, he led the AFL in passing yards (3,330) and touchdown passes (36). His 36 touchdown passes in 1961 were the most ever thrown by any NFL/AFL quarterback in a single season, until matched by Y.A. Tittle of the NFL New York Giants just two years later in 1963. Blanda's and Tittle's mark would remain the record until surpassed by Dan Marino's 48 touchdown passes in 1984. Blanda's 42 interceptions thrown in 1962 is a record that still stands.

During 1962, he had two 400-yard passing days for the Oilers: a 464-yard effort against the Buffalo Bills on October 29, with four touchdown passes (winning 28–16); and 418 yards three weeks later against the Titans of New York, this time with seven touchdown passes in a 49–13 victory. Blanda passed for 36 touchdowns that season. On 13 occasions, he connected on four or more touchdown passes during a game, and on November 1, 1964, unleashed 68 passes for Houston against the Buffalo Bills.

From 1963 to 1965, Blanda led the AFL in passing attempts and completions, and ranked in the top ten for attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns during seven consecutive seasons. A four-time member of the American Football League All-Star team, Blanda's already-long career seemed over when he was released by the Oilers on March 18, 1967. However, the Oakland Raiders signed him that July, seeing his potential as a contributing backup passer and a dependable kicker.

In later years, Blanda would remain a strong supporter of AFL heritage, saying: "That first year, the Houston Oilers or Los Angeles Chargers (24–16 losers to the Oilers in the title game) could have beaten the NFL champion (Philadelphia) in a Super Bowl." Blanda said further: "I think the AFL was capable of beating the NFL in a Super Bowl game as far back as 1960 or '61. I just regret we didn't get the chance to prove it."

Oakland Raiders

In 1967, during Blanda's first season with the Raiders, his kicking skills helped him lead the AFL in scoring with 116 points. In two instances, his leg helped play a role in Raider victories: a trio of field goals helped upset the defending league champion Kansas City Chiefs on October 1; in the closing weeks of the regular season, Blanda booted four field goals behind a hostile Houston crowd in a 19–7 victory over his former team, the Oilers, helping gain a measure of revenge.

The Raiders went on to compete in Super Bowl II, but lost the final two AFL Championship games in the 10-year history of the league.

In [3] In the team's next game, Blanda replaced Lamonica in the fourth quarter and connected with Fred Biletnikoff on a touchdown pass with 2:28 left in the game to defeat the Denver Broncos, 24–19. The streak concluded one week later when Blanda's 16-yard field goal in the closing seconds defeated the San Diego Chargers, 20–17.

In the AFC title game against the Baltimore Colts, Blanda again relieved an injured Lamonica, completing 17 of 32 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns while also kicking a 48-yard field goal and two extra points, keeping the Raiders in the game until the final quarter, when he was intercepted twice. Aged 43, he became the oldest quarterback ever to play in a championship game, and was one of the few remaining straight-ahead kickers in the NFL.

Blanda's achievements resulted in his winning the

He played in his last game at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium on January 4, 1976, at age 48,[4] in the 1975 AFC Championship Game, where he kicked a 41-yard field goal and made one extra point as the Raiders lost to the Steelers 16–10.

Career regular season statistics

Career high/best bolded

Records and honors

Blanda finished his 26 professional football seasons having completed 1,911 of 4,007 pass attempts for 26,920 yards and 236 touchdowns. Blanda also held the NFL record for most interceptions thrown with 277, until Brett Favre broke it on October 14, 2007. He rushed for 344 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground, kicked 335 of 641 field goals, and 943 of 959 extra points, giving him 2,002 total points. Additional stats include 1 interception, 2 kickoff returns for 19 yards, 22 punts for 809 yards, and 23 fumble recoveries.

Blanda holds the following professional football records:

  • Passing TDs in a game: 7 (Tied with 6 others[5]) November 19, 1961 vs. New York Titans[6]
  • Most seasons played: 26 (1949–58, 1960–75)
  • Most seasons scoring a point: 26
  • One of two players to play in 4 different decades: (40s, 50s, 60s, 70s)
  • Most PATs made (943) and attempted (959)
  • Most interceptions thrown, single season: 42 (1962)
  • Held record of most pass attempts in a single game: 68 (37 completions, vs. New York Titans on 11/1/1961) until 1994 when Drew Bledsoe had 70
  • Oldest player to play in an NFL game: 48 years, 109 days
  • First player ever to score over 2,000 points
  • Oldest quarterback to start a title game
  • Most total points accounted for (including TD passes) in a career: 3,418 (not an official stat)

He is the placekicker on the All-Time All-AFL Team, and was one of only 20 players to play all ten years of the AFL, as well as one of only three who were in every AFL game their teams played. Blanda was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981, his first year of eligibility, and also was inducted into the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame.

Blanda held the record for [7] until September 26, 1976 by defensive end Jim Marshall. His 114 postseason points were an NFL record at the time of his retirement.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Frank Litsky; Bruce Weber (September 27, 2010). "George Blanda, Hall of Fame Football Player, Dies at 83". New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  2. ^ http://www.ukathletics.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/071100aaw.html
  3. ^ Ross, George (September 27, 2010). "'"Blanda's miracle season: Browns beaten by 52-yard field goal from 'King of the World.  
  4. ^ "History: Players Who've Played in NFL at Age 40 or Older".  
  5. ^ http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2013-11-03/nick-foles-eagles-7-touchdown-passes-ties-nfl-record-peyton-manning-raiders
  6. ^ ESPN Sports Almanac 2006, page 273. Sports Almanac, Inc. 2005.
  7. ^ "GEORGE BLANDA Career Highlights". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  8. ^ http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/westmoreland/s_550009.html
  9. ^ Dickey, Glenn (January 8, 2011). "Fantasy Football: Craze's roots go back to Oakland". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  10. ^ Richardson, Bill (September 27, 2010). "Ageless wonder George Blanda dies". Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on October 1, 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "Hall of Famer's longevity was legendary", Salt Lake Tribune, September 28, 2010
  12. ^ "Raiders Hall of Fame QB George Blanda dies at 83". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. September 27, 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  • "George Blanda: The Old Man". (1999). In ESPN SportsCentury. Michael MacCambridge, Editor. New York: Hyperion ESPN Books. p. 228.

External links

  • George Blanda at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Career statistics and player information from NFL.com • Pro-Football-Reference
The 1970s TV series

References in popular culture

According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Blanda died after a "short illness" on September 27, 2010.[10] He was 83 years old.[11] A moment of silence was held in Blanda's honor prior to the start of the September 27, 2010 game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, from Soldier Field.[12]

Death

Blanda was the first ever recorded fantasy football draft pick when the game was first created in 1962 by The Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League.[9]

In 1999, Blanda was ranked number 98 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

[8]

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