Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Remembering George Blanda

I heard on a Sporting News Flash segment that NFL Hall of Fame quarterback/place kicker George Blanda passed away Monday at age 83.

Blanda was a legendary player from 1949 through 1975 playing for the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers, and Oakland Raiders. In those 26 seasons, the longest playing career in pro football history, Blanda threw 236 touchdown passes and scored 2002 points, a pro football record at the time.

George's best season as a quarterback came in 1961 playing for the Houston Oilers of the American Football League (AFL) throwing 36 TD passes and named AFL Player of the Year.

But what I remember about Blanda was he was clutch as both the place kicker and backup quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. I also remember a stretch of games in the early 1970's in which he either threw game tying or winning touchdown passes and some winning field goals along the way.

I honestly didn't remember what season it was or the exact way these games were decided, so I did some research to get the information that I will present to you.

The season was 1970 and the streak of games that Blanda either led Oakland to victory, or in one game a tie, was five.

The first game was a three-touchdown passing and a field goal to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. On the heels of defeating Pittsburgh, Blanda kicked a game tying field goal versus arch rival Kansas City Chiefs followed by throwing a touchdown pass and kicking a 52-yard field goal with 1:36 remaining to beat the Cleveland Browns. The streak reached four games as Blanda beat the Denver Broncos with a late TD pass and culminated with George kicking a late game winning field goal against the San Diego Chargers.

That is one amazing run for a player who was age 43 at the time!

Blanda retired just prior to then 1976 season after being waived by Oakland a month short of his 49th birthday and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

Truly an amazing career from an amazing athlete. With that may we pay homage to a man that truly loved what he did --- play football for a living.

May George Blanda rest in peace.


Send email to dlafrance2@207me.com

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