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NFL Great George Blanda Dies

In addition to recent news of Demi Moore, tragedy has made headlines as NFL great George Blanda, one of the game's greatest players and a legendary ironman, died on September 27, 2010 following a short illness. He was 83 years old at the time of his death. Upon hearing the news of his demise the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears held a moment of silence prior to the commencement of their game at Soldier Field that day [1].

George Blanda was a famous college and pro football player, holding the dual positions of placekicker and quarterback. He still holds the record for the most seasons in pro football with 26, and he held the league record for most points scored for a career at the time he retired. After playing professionally for more than a quarter of a decade, George Blanda finally hung up the cleats for good in 1976. He holds a few very impressive records even to this day: he has the most extra points kicked for a career, and he is one of only two players to play professionally in four different decades.

George Blanda College Career

During his college career, he played quarterback and kicker for the University of Kentucky. While he was at Kentucky, he met the coach who would later become a legend, Paul "Bear" Bryant. Under Bryant's tutelage, George Blanda helped the Wildcats recover from a terrible stretch and guided them to two winning seasons while he was the starting quarterback during his junior and senior years there. After he graduated from Kentucky, it was on to the NFL.

Pro Football Career

In the beginning of his career, George Blanda played for the Chicago Bears. He only started at quarterback for one season, but also saw some time as a placekicker and a linebacker on the defensive side of the ball. In those days football players did not make much money. Even a small expense like a bill from the car insurance provider might be a bill worth fretting over. The owner of the Bears was so cheap that he demanded his money back after signing the quarterback and watching him play [1]. This was a far cry from today's NFL. Players like George Blanda played strictly for the notoriety, the competition, and for the love of the game. Most of them were not making enough money to quit their jobs and they had to work in the offseason.

George Blanda retired from the Bears in 1958 at the insistence of the team's owner, but came back two years later to play quarterback for the AFL's Houston Oilers. He also played kicker for Houston, continuing his pattern of versatility and great value to the team. He went on to lead Houston to the first two AFL titles and won the Player of the Year award in 1961 [1]. His comeback was initially mocked by the media, until he was able to engineer the back to back titles and resurrect his career in such dramatic fashion.

George Blanda ended up playing for the Oakland Raiders and actually stuck around as a backup until the 1976 season, a remarkable accomplishment at age 49. His amazing durability and inner fire made him one of the game's greatest competitors. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame member and is remembered as one of the game's great early stars. He established and held passing and kicking records that stood for decades, some of which still stand today. The durability of his records is symbolic of his own durability and toughness as a player who never seemed to quit while he was on the field. George Blanda will be missed.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Blanda Retrieved 2010-09-30.

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