At the Age of 48, George Blanda was a Quarterback, Kicker and Professional Football's All-Time Leading Scorer
George Fredrick Blanda was born on September 17, 1927. His father was a Slovak-born coal miner from the Pittsburgh area. He was a professional football player who became a National Football League (NFL) legend. The famous Bear Bryant was his college coach. Bryant told the Chicago Bears that George Blanda would never make it in the NFL. At the end of his career, George Blanda was the NFL's all-time leading scorer with 2002 points. This consisted of 335 field goals, 943 extra points as well as rushing for nine touchdowns. He played in the NFL longer than any other player. George Blanda was in the NFL for 26 seasons and played in 340 games. He was also the NFL's oldest player when he retired at the age of 48. He never missed an extra point in any postseason game where he was the kicker.
In 1947, George Blanda was a kicker and quarterback at the University of Kentucky. Bear Bryant was the coach there prior to moving to the University of Alabama. Blanda was the starting quarterback for the University of Kentucky during his last two years. He had a 49.6 completion percentage. He accumulated 1,451 yards and passed for 12 touchdowns.
When George Blanda graduated from the University of Kentucky, he believed his days of playing football were over. In 1949, the Chicago Bears drafted him in the 12th round. There were some contract negotiations. Blanda ended up signing a contract worth $6,000 that included a $600 bonus. George Blanda was signed as a third-string quarterback. He was behind Johnny Lujack as well as future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman. George Blanda showed his ability to be a versatile player for George Halas' Bears as he even played linebacker when needed. Blanda was upset when he received no raises after watching others players around him get them. In 1952, he was given a salary raise to $11,600. The next year Blanda became the Bear's starting quarterback. In 1953, he led the NFL in passing attempts and completions. Blanda threw for 15 touchdowns in eight games. He became injured the next season and lost his starting quarterback position. It was clear to him the Chicago Bears would only use him as a kicker and not as a quarterback. Blanda's playing time decreased, and he quit playing professional football in 1959.
George Blanda's retirement from professional football didn't last long. In 1960, he was offered a contract and signed with the Houston Oilers of the American Football League. In 1961, he set a record in a game against the New York Titans. George Blanda threw seven touchdown passes in one game. A record held by only three other quarterbacks. Thirteen times when he played for the Houston Oilers, he threw for four or more touchdowns in a single game. In 1964 during a game against the Buffalo Bills, George Blanda completed 68 passes. This record stood until 1994 when the New England Patriot's Drew Bledsoe completed 70 passes in a single game that went into overtime. He also continued to be used as a kicker. His kicking average was 56.4 percent. George Blanda was the AFL's leading passer and scorer for every season he played for the Houston Oilers. He was instrumental in Houston winning the AFL championship in 1960-61 season. He passed for over 300 yards and three touchdowns during the championship game.
George Blanda was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 1967 when he was 39 years old. Between the 1967 and 1971 seasons, he kicked 201 consecutive extra points. In 1968, he was part of the Raiders AFL championship team. They eventually went on to lose Super Bowl II to the Green Bay Packers 33-14
Most Memorable Season
George Blanda's most memorable season was with the Raiders in 1970. The Raiders starting quarterback was Daryl Lamonica. He kept getting injured. At 43, George Blanda was able to take over at quarterback back and play five incredible games. During the first game, Blanda was able to come off the bench and throw three touchdowns for a victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The next week with only three seconds left in the game, he was able to kick a 48-yard field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs to get a 17-17 tie. George Blanda was able to come off the bench and into the next game and throw for a touchdown to tie the Cleveland Browns with only 1:34 left. George Blanda then kicked a 53-yard field goal with three seconds left to get a 23-20 victory. The next game was against the Denver Broncos. Blanda replaced Lamonica in the fourth quarter. He was able to connect with the wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff with 2:28 remaining in the game for a 24-19 victory. The next week George Blanda was able to kick a 16-yard field goal with only a few seconds left to defeat the San Diego Chargers 20-17. The Raiders then went on to play the Baltimore Colts in the AFC title game. Blanda again came off the bench to relieve an injured Daryl Lamonica. He completed 17 of 32 passes for 217 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and kicked a 48-yard field goal as well as two extra points. The Raiders lost the game, but George Blanda was the oldest quarterback to play in an NFL Championship game.
George Blanda played with the Oakland Raiders for nine seasons. He retired one month before his 49th birthday. Blanda had a career that spanned 26 years of playing professional football. During that time he threw for over 26,900 yards. He completed 1,911 of 4,007 pass attempts. He threw for 236 touchdowns. Blanda rushed for 344 yards and had 9 rushing touchdowns. He kicked 335 field goals and 943 extra points. Blanda scored a franchise-high of 863 points with the Oakland Raiders. He also was the first player to ever score over 500 points for three different teams. George Blanda was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981. It was the first year he was eligible to be inducted. He was also part of the AFL-NFL 25 year All-Star team. In 1985, George Blanda's hometown of Youngwood, Pennsylvania renamed U.S. Route 119 in his honor. It is now known as George Blanda Boulevard. George Blanda passed away on September 27, 2010.