Image via WikipediaNFL Hall of Fame quarterback and kicker George Blanda passed away today at the age of 83. Blanda holds the distinction for being the oldest man to ever play in an NFL game and for longevity will probably never be matched again.
Blanda began his career in 1949 playing for the Chicago Bears. He played with them until 1958. After sitting out the 1959 season, he came back in 1960 with the Houston Oilers of the fledgling AFL. Blanda was a key figure in giving the league credibility during it's early years. He joined the Oakland Raiders in 1967 and played with them until 1975.
All told, Blanda played in 26 professional football seasons, an all time record. He is one of only two players to ever have a career span four decades. The other being punter Jeff Feagles. In 1970, at the age of 43, Blanda came off the bench to help lead the Raiders to the AFC Championship game, making him the oldest quarterback to play in a championship game. He played his last game for the Raiders at the age of 48, making him the oldest player to ever play in an NFL game.
When I was a kid, I had a series of books that I bought that had stories of different football events. One of the books told of Blanda's exploits in that 1970 season. He was truly a legend of the game. He was also a pioneer. When he entered the league, the game truly was three yards and a cloud of dust. When he joined the Oilers, he led one of the most pass happy teams in history. His exploits helped lead to the wide open game we enjoy today. George Blanda, may you RIP.