George Blanda, the greatest Raider, has passed away at 83. In 1970, at the age of 43, he was the driving force in five straight games, with his foot and with his arm.
George Blanda played collegiately at my alma mater, the University of Kentucky, for Paul “Bear” Brynat, and was UK’s starting quarterback his junior and senior seasons, in 1947 and 1948. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears. He retired in 1958, but was recruited by the new American Football League in 1960, and led the Houston Oilers to the first two AFL Championships. The Oilers released the then 39-year old player before the 1967 season, but Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders — my all-time favoritest team — signed him as a kicker and back-up quarterback. He played a total of 26 seasons, and is the oldest man to play quarterback in a league championship game, a 16-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1975 AFC Championship game . . . at age 48.