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George Blanda dies at age of 83

Updated at 3:34 p.m.

Legendary NFL Hall of Famer George Blanda, who played professional football for 26 years and was for a time the all-time leading scorer in the NFL, has died at the age of 83.

Blanda, regarded as an ageless wonder who became a household name during his years with the Raiders, was known for versatility, durability and longevity, originally playing quarterback and kicking for the Chicago Bears (with one season spent with Baltimore). When the Bears wanted him to just kick after 10 years, Blanda jumped to the Houston Oilers of the American Football League.

"He didn't want to be known as a kicker," former Oakland Raiders Coach John Madden said. "He wanted to be known as a quarterback who kicked."

Cut by the Oilers at the age of 39, he signed with Al Davis and the Raiders and became famous for leading comebacks and upsets as a quarterback and a kicker, although he was playing for a coach, Madden, who was nine years younger than he. During a five-game stretch in 1970, he won four games and tied another with either his arm or foot.

"Al Davis always liked my attitude, and my time with the Raiders was special, because it looked like my career was over" the always-blunt Blanda said. "Instead, I played another nine years, which by itself was more than twice the average playing career."

He retired as the NFL's all-time leading scorer after the 1975 season. His 2,002 points stood as the record until 2000, when Gary Anderson broke it. He also held records for career field-goal attempts (637) and PATs made and attempted (943 of 959).

When Blanda was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981, Davis was his presenter.

"Two renegades, me and Al Davis," Blanda said. "It was great."

By Cindy Boren  | September 27, 2010; 3:03 PM ET
Categories:  NFL  
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RIP, George Blanda. You were indeed a great one -- tough, crafty and always giving your best.

Better yet, you inspired everyone paying attention over age 40.

Posted by: loulor | September 27, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

George was not only the greatest clutch player but the toughest football player to ever live. When is was playing QB at St. Thomas High in Houston one day Coach Mike Mashon asked who has to be the toughest player on the field? He then turned and pointed to me and said you do, your the quarterback. Well George lived up to Mashon's teachings.
This was first called to my attention by Tallimeane at the bowling alley when we kid would hang out with the Oilers. I once got the nerve up to ask Bob who the toughest player was on the team. I expected him to say Dewvall or Cannon. But no he said Blanda was the guy he would least like to fight and fight they did back in the AFL.
This statement was verified in a home game against the Raiders before George was traded to them. Blanda had just thrown a pass and the whistle had blown when some big D end hit late. George was knocked on his back. The defender gloated for a moment and turned back to the line. It wasn't over, bad move for George came quietly up to his back side and kicked him in the rear end with a patented Blanda kick. At that point it was on, another Raider came into the picture to do bodily harm when Cannon cut him off with a body contact hit that send the man sailing. Then all eyes were back on George and the big bully. The bully attacked charging a relaxed Blanda. George commonly took a couple steps back ie. Mohammad Ali style letting the angry defender over extend himself leaving his head on the chopping block for George to chop the back of the neck, only after pulling off his helmet from the back, to finish the fight faster than the blink of an eye.
George I am going to keep going to church so I can see you in heaven. I will not be hitting you late. Love, Trooper

Posted by: trooperkeeton | September 27, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

R.I.P, George Blanda. It should be mandatory for players in this league nowadays to sit through a video retrospective of Blanda's career at training camp. Here was a man who could play multiple positions. Didn't complain about getting short-changed in 'incentives'. He had guts. He just wanted to play the damn game. How much better the sport would be if every team had just one George Blanda on it today.

Posted by: ericenderle | September 28, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I see these highlights and am amazed. Compare them to Clinton Portis taking a dive in the open field while running with the ball this past Sunday.

Posted by: ShovelPlease | September 28, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

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