George Blanda Chicago Bears & Oakland Raiders & Houston Oilers & Baltimore Colts (1947-1949 AAFC; 1950 NFL)
"I never say 'This is my biggest thrill.’ It’s what you can do tomorrow that’s important.”
George Blanda played pro football for 26 seasons – longer than any other person. However, he’ll probably be remembered best for his 1970 season with the Oakland Raiders. That year, in a five-game period, George provided Oakland with four wins and one tie with last-second touchdown passes or field goals – at age 43.
The string started with a three-touchdown passing and one field goal outburst against Pittsburgh and continued with a 48-yard field goal with three seconds left to tie Kansas City. He threw a scoring pass and added a 52-yard field goal in the last 96 seconds to defeat Cleveland. Next came a winning touchdown toss against Denver and a last-instant field goal to upend San Diego.
During his career, Blanda accumulated impressive credentials. He passed for 236 touchdowns and scored an incredible 2,002 points. In 1970, he became the oldest quarterback to play in a title game. Although the Baltimore Colts won 27-17, Blanda accounted for all of the Raiders' points off two touchdown passes and one field goal. Blanda’s career was divided into three distinct parts, 10 years with the Chicago Bears followed by seven seasons with the Houston Oilers and nine-years with the Oakland Raiders. He was just a month shy of his 49th birthday when he retired before the 1976 season.
Blanda did not become a fulltime starter until his fifth season with the Bears and in 1954 he was shelved by an injury. In 1959, he balked at becoming a kicker-only and retired. But the emergence of the American Football League in 1960 gave Blanda another chance to play. He went on to lead the Oilers to the first two AFL titles and won AFL Player of the Year honors in 1961. In 1967, when Blanda was almost 40, the Oilers decided he was through but the Raiders saw George as a contributing backup passer and a dependable kicker so they picked him up. George handled both jobs with distinction for another nine seasons.