Wednesday, September 29


Football great George Blanda dies, age 83. Blanda played for the Houston Oilers and Chicago Bears but I will always remember him to be an Oakland Raider, where he played from '67 until '75. He retired as a silver and black. Blanda was a place kicker and quarterback before free agents, money, indoor stadiums, Al Davis and AstroTurf corrupted the game. In the 60s and 70s, a fella could play any position as long as he was capable (it was also not usual to see players, on the sideline, smoking on a fag - team mate Fred Biletnikoff did so between oxygen drags. But this was the Raiders). Blanda a coal miner's son from Pittsburgh who got his shot while at Kentucky U, being drafted in the 12th round by the Bears. His ranking gave no indication of his future success which eventually covered 26 seasons of professional football - the most in the history of this sport. During this period Blanda set all kinds of records including most passingTDs in a game (7, tied with four others); most PATs made (943) and attempted (959); most interceptions in a season 42 ('62) and the first player to score 2,000 points. In his first eligibility year, Blanda was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in '81. Fittingly, he died in Alameda, California, not too far from the Oakland stadium.