George Blanda dead at 83

Discussion in 'Oakland Raiders' started by FootballDad, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. FootballDad

    FootballDad Hall of Famer

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    One of the all-time Raider greats passes away at 83. Man, I'm starting to feel older, I remember watching Blanda play[​IMG]


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    <H1 property="dc:title">Raiders Hall of Fame QB George Blanda dies at 83</H1>
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    ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP)â€"George Blanda, the seemingly ageless Hall of Fame quarterback and kicker whose 26-year career was best remembered for a remarkable run of late-game theatrics with the Oakland Raiders, has died. He was 83.
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    The Raiders confirmed the death Monday and issued a statement saying "we are deeply saddened by the passing of the great George Blanda. George was a brave Raider and a close personal friend of Raiders owner Al Davis."Â￾


    Blanda retired a month shy of his 49th birthday before the 1976 season, playing longer than anyone else in pro football history. He spent 10 seasons with the Chicago Bears, part of one with the Baltimore Colts, seven with the Houston Oilers and his final nine with the Raiders.
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    He scored 2,002 points in his career, a pro football record at the time of his retirement, kicking 335 field goals and 943 extra points, running for nine touchdowns and throwing for 236 more.


    But it was a five-game stretch for Oakland in 1970 that is the lasting imprint from his career. As a 43-year-old, Blanda led the Raiders to four wins and one tie with late touchdown passes or field goals.


    Later that season, he became the oldest quarterback to play in a championship game, throwing two touchdown passes and kicking a field goal in Oakland's 27-17 loss to Baltimore in the AFC title game. His performance that season earned him The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.


    Blanda joined the Oilers of the new American Football League in 1960 and played 16 more seasons before hanging it up for good following the 1975 campaign.


    Blanda led the Oilers to the first two AFL titles, beating the Chargers for the championship following the 1960 and '61 seasons. He nearly won a third straight title when he led the Oilers back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to the Dallas Texans in the 1962 title game before losing in double overtime.


    He began his memorable run in 1970 by throwing three touchdown passes in place of an injured Daryle Lamonica in a 31-14 win over Pittsburgh on Oct. 25. The following week he kicked a 48-yard field goal in the final seconds to give the Raiders a 17-17 tie against Kansas City.


    Blanda was just getting started. He threw a tying touchdown pass with 1:34 remaining and then kicked the game-winning 52-yard field goal in the final seconds the following week in a 23-20 win over Cleveland.


    He followed that with a 20-yard TD pass to Fred Biletnikoff in place of Lamonica in a 24-19 victory over Denver the next week, then kicked a 16-yard field goal in the closing seconds to beat San Diego 20-17 on Nov. 22.


    "The game that I remember the most was playing against Cleveland in 1970,"Â￾ he once said. "We were down 20-13 and I came in and we got a touchdown and then we got a field goal in the last three seconds."Â￾


    Blanda entered the NFL out of Kentucky as a 12th-round pick (119th overall) of the Chicago Bears in 1949. He spent most of the next decade with the Bears, leaving to play one game for the Colts in 1950. After winning the Bears starting job in 1953, Blanda promptly lost it the following season because of injury. His playing time at quarterback quickly diminished and he retired in 1959 at age 31 when Chicago planned to make him a full-time kicker.


    It was a short-lived break. Blanda joined the Oilers of the new American Football League in 1960 and played 16 more seasons before hanging it up for good following the 1975 campaign.


    Blanda was one of the new league's many prolific passers, throwing for 19,149 yards and 165 touchdowns in seven seasons for the Oilers. He was the AFL Player of the Year in 1961, holds AFL single-game passing record of 464 yards on Oct. 29, 1961, against Buffalo, and was chosen the league's all-time kicker.


    "We did all the strategy right on the field,"Â￾ he once said. "Today, the coaches call all the plays, so all the quarterbacks have to do is perform. They are more or less programmed."Â￾


    The Oilers thought he was at the end of his career in 1967, but the Raiders picked him up as a backup quarterback and kicker and he lasted nine more seasons.


    Blanda threw for 26,920 yards in his career and held the pro football record with 277 interceptions until Brett Favre(notes) passed him in 2007. He retired with the most points in history before the total was topped by several players in recent years.


    "It certainly doesn't bother me,"Â￾ Blanda said about losing the scoring record. "The one record I was happy to get rid of was the one for the most interceptions, when Brett Favre got that one."Â￾
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  2. jaxvid

    jaxvid Hall of Famer

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    RIP to one of the greats!
     
  3. Electric Slide

    Electric Slide Mentor

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    That's amazing that he was a QB and kicker and that he played for that long with players born several years after his rookie season!
     
  4. jaxvid

    jaxvid Hall of Famer

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    Back in the day the QB usually always knew how to kick, a lot of time he was the punter. As far as the place kicker was concerned the team frequently used one of the best athletes on the team because in those days if a guy was fast and strong he was also considered good at the skills of football which included kicking. That's why you had guys like Frank Gifford, a RB do some place kicking.

    I'm betting our resident football history expert "sports historian" can give more info about it.
     
  5. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

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    Before specialization a lot of marginal pros learned kicking to keep themselves on a team. I recall Jim O'Brian being the 4th or 5th wide out for the Colts and the Jets kicker in Super Bowl III was the 5th tailback. As for Blanda I assumed he would never die..... [​IMG] Edited by: white is right
     
  6. Don Wassall

    Don Wassall Administrator Staff Member

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    Blanda was quite the national celebrity in 1970 when he was leading the Raiders to all those last second wins at the age of 43.
     
  7. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

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    Yes I recall he got a celebrity following among the over 50 crowd. Back in those days if a player had an angle for doing the rubber chicken circuit they went for it because their salaries were relatively modest.
     
  8. sport historian

    sport historian Master

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    Yes, the QB sometimes was a punter, Norm Van Brocklin for example. Paul Hornung placekicked for the Packers, enabling him to set a scoring record in 1960. The team rosters were smaller 50 years ago making it an advantage to have a regular player do the kicking or punting. It saved a roster spot.

    I recall watching George Blanda on TV playing for the Houston Oilers. They won the first two AFL titles in 1960-61. His late-game heroics with the Oakland Raiders in 1970-71 earned him a hall of fame spot.
     
  9. Kaptain

    Kaptain Master

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    Danny White is the last QB I can recall that also did the punting.
     
  10. Kaptain

    Kaptain Master

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    Whenever I hear the phrase "Grizzled Veteran" I picture George Blanda.


    [​IMG]Edited by: Kaptain Poop
     
  11. Jack Lambert

    Jack Lambert Hall of Famer

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    RIP to Blanda, one of the best!
     
  12. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

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    It's probably Tom Tupa. Who was a qb/punter who became a full time punter in his thirties. I recall seeing Randall Cunningham punting in a pinch for Philly back in the early 90's too. Edited by: white is right
     
  13. Cassiodorus

    Cassiodorus Guru

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    Backup Vikings QB Bob Lee (also started briefly with the Falcons) was the punter for a couple of seasons.
     
  14. foreverfree

    foreverfree Mentor

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    My parents were both 12 years old when Blanda was a rookie. (They didn't meet until HS where they were classmates.) I was about to enter 10th grade when he retired. I remember his Grecian Formula commercials ("Someone you know may be using Grecian Formula and you might not even know it." [That's Blanda I'm quoting, not myself. I've never used hair coloring.]) Also, around 1975 (Blanda's last season) one dude I knew, a couple of years younger than I, had a Blanda Raider jersey. My mother sometimes slept in a Guy Morriss Phila. Eagles jersey. Morriss was the Eagles' starting center in the late '70s who later coached Kentucky and Baylor. Those were the days, jersey sale wise. Iykwim.

    I had no idea Blanda was a Colt. Then I opened my copy of Tod Maher and Bob Gill's The Pro Football Encyclopedia (1997 ed.) and there it was: Blanda played one game at DB(!) for BAL in 1950 before being traded back to Da Bears, for whom he was a rookie in '49. Those 1950 Colts, btw, began life as the AAFC's Miami Seahawks in 1946, moved to Baltimore in '47, and were absorbed into the NFL in 1950, and I believe folded before the '51 season.

    Thus, Blanda was never with the Colts that employed Messrs. Unitas, Cuozzo, Morrall, Domres, Jones, Harbaugh, and Manning (and, if they'd had their way, Mr. Elway), much less loaded a fleet of Mayflowers one snowy night.

    Someone mentioned smaller rosters back in the day. Doesn't the CFL still have a roster limit around 40?

    RIP, George.

    John
     
  15. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

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    Yes the CFL roster limit is around 38? Most clubs actually have only one kicker who does both field goals and punts. In some instances the NFL has employed three kickers if the field goal kicker is older and his leg strength has been fading.
     

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