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George Blanda

the oldest quarterback ever to play in a championship game

George Blanda

Personal Life

George Frederick Blanda was born in Youngwood, Pennsylvania, on September 17, 1927. He married Betty Harris on December 17, 1949, and the couple ultimately had two children. He died in Alameda, California, on September 27, 2010.

College Career

Blanda was the starting quarterback for the University of Kentucky in the 1947 and 1948 seasons. During those seasons he completed 120 of 242 passes for 1,451 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Chicago Bears

Signed by the Bears in 1949, Blanda was used primarily as a place-kicker and back-up quarterback until becoming the starting quarterback in 1953. He led the league in pass completions that year, but an injury in 1954 ended his starting quarterback status. Used almost exclusively as a place-kicker through 1958, he decided to retire at the end of that season.

Houston Oilers

Blanda returned to football upon establishment of the American League in 1960, as the starting quarterback and place-kicker for the Houston Oilers. He led the Oilers to the very first AFL Championship in 1960 (beating the Los Angeles Chargers), and then followed it up with another championship in 1961 (beating the San Diego Chargers). In the latter year, he led the league with 36 touchdown passes and 3,330 passing yards. His touchdown pass record was matched by Y. A. Tittle of the New York Giants in 1963, but was not broken until Dan Marino scored 48 in 1984. On October 29, 1962, Blanda threw for 464 yards, including four touchdown passes, to defeat the Buffalo Bills 28-16. Three weeks later he threw for 418 yards, including seven touchdown passes, to score a 49-13 win against the New York Titans. The Oilers went to their third straight AFL Championship game that year, but lost to the Dallas Texans.Blanda ranked in the top ten for pass attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns during seven consecutive seasons, and led the AFL in attempts and completions from 1963 to 1965, but was released by the Oilers on March 18, 1967.

Oakland Raiders

Although he was then 39 years old, the Oakland Raiders believed Blanda still had some good years in him and signed him as a place-kicker and back-up passer in July 1967. In his first season as a Raider, Blanda led the AFL with 116 kicking points (via 56 point-after kicks and 20 field goals).

Initially released during the 1970 exhibition season, Blanda was resigned by the Raiders for the regular season and went on to put together one of the most remarkable strings of games in NFL history. On October 25, he threw for three touchdowns in relief of an injured Daryle Lamonica to help the Raiders defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-14. The following week, his 48-yard field goal with three seconds remaining salvaged a 17-17 tie with the Kansas City Chiefs. On November 8, he again came off the bench as a relief quarterback and, with 1:34 remaining, threw a touchdown pass to tie the Cleveland Browns 20-20, and then, with 3 seconds remaining, kicked a 53-yard field goal for a 23-20 win. The following week, he relieved Lamonica late in the fourth quarter and directed a drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to Fred biletnikoff and a 24-19 win over the Denver Broncos. On November 22, his 16-yard field goal in the closing seconds gave the Raiders a 20-17 win over the San Diego Chargers. Then, on November 29, he kicked a time-expired conversion to give the Raiders a 14-13 win over the New York Jets. In the AFC Championship 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; the Raiders lost the game 27-17. At 43 years of age, he became the oldest quarterback to ever play in a championship game. Not surprisingly, he was voted Male Athlete of 1970 in an Associated Press poll.

Blanda never again played a major role at quarterback, but he continued as the Raiders' kicker for five more seasons. He played his last game at Pittsburgh on January 4, 1976. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981, the first year of his eligibility.

Career Statistics and Records

Seasons Played -- 26 -- a record he still holds
Total Games Played
-- 340 -- a record that was broken by place-kicker Morten Andersen on September 16, 2004
Consecutive Games Played -- 224 -- a record that was broken by defensive end Jim Marshall on September 26, 1976

Total Points Scored -- 2,002 -- a record not broken until 2000

Pass Attempts/Completions -- 1,811/4,007
Total Pass Yards -- 26,920
Pass Touchdowns -- 236
Interceptions -- 277 -- a record broken by Brett Favre on October 14, 2007

Rushing Yards -- 344
Rushing Touchdowns -- 9

Defensive Interceptions -- 1
Kickoff Returns/Yards -- 2/19
Fumble Recoveries -- 23

Punts/Yards -- 22/809

PAT's Made/Attempted -- 943/949 -- a record he still holds
Field Goals Made/Attempted -- 335/668 -- record broken in 1983

Sources

Pro Football Hall of Fame www.profootballhof.com
Pro Football Reference www.pro-football-reference.com

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This page was last updated on October 05, 2018.