George BlandaGeorge Blanda
(born September 17
) was an American football player. He was a prime example of players who were called "NFL Rejects"
by some. The NFL
Bears thought the University of Kentucky's Blanda wasn't good enough to be a quarterback and wanted him to be a place kicker only. But in 1960
, the formation of the American Football League
led to Blanda's signing by the Houston Oilers
as a quarterback and kicker. He went on to lead the Oilers to the first two league titles in AFL history, and he won AFL Player of the Year honors in 1961
. Blanda once passed for 7 TDs in one game, and 36 in a season, 1961. Thirteen times he threw four or more touchdown passes in a game, and once he unleashed 68 passes, for Houston against Buffalo on Nov. 1, 1964. For three staight years, 1963
, he led the league in passing attempts and completions, and was in the top ten for attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns for seven straight years. He was a four-time member of the American Football League All-Star team. In 1967
, when Blanda was almost 40, he left the Oilers but the Oakland Raiders
saw him as a contributing backup passer and a dependable kicker so they picked him up. At Oakland, he was a clutch kicker and a valuable "reliever" who pulled games out if fellow Hall of Famer Daryle Lamonica
was unavailable or ineffective. He was especially successful in this role in 1970
, when he was named the NFL's MVP.
Blanda went on to become the oldest quarterback to start a title game, and the oldest professional football player, with the longest career, 26 years. He remains a strong supporter of the AFL heritage, recently saying: "That first year, the Houston Oilers or Los Angeles Chargers (24-16 losers to the Oilers in the title game) could have beaten the NFL champion (Philadelphia) in a Super Bowl," Blanda said further: "I think the AFL was capable of beating the NFL in a Super Bowl game as far back as 1960 or '61. I just regret we didn't get the chance to prove it."
He is the placekicker on the All-time All-AFL Team. Blanda was one of only 20 players to play all ten years of the AFL, one of only three who were in every AFL game their teams played, and is a member of the American Football League Hall of Fame
, the Pro Football Hall of Fame
, and the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame..