Clock runs out on Ageless Wonder


Retired football deity, George Blanda died yesterday at the age of 83. Blanda was a QB/Placekicker who played in the NFL and AFL for 26, count ’em, 26 years.In 1970 at the age of 43 Blanda went on a legendary tear as a relief QB for the Oakland Raiders:

George Blanda has just been elected King of the World!” Those were the words of radio announcer Bill King after another great comeback orchestrated by the Raiders’ legendary quarterback/kicker in 1970. Having come off the bench to first throw a game-tying touchdown pass and then kick the game-winning field goal, Mr. Blanda continued an amazing stretch of five games that etched his name onto a short list of theNFL‘s all-time clutch performers.

The John Madden coached Raiders teams were back in the news even before George’s passing. There’s a new book by Peter Richmond about that group of reprobates and renegades.It’s called, appropriately enough, Badasses.

I grew up in the Bay Area and my Dad was more of a 49ers fan but, except for a few years in the early ’70’s, they were neither exciting nor very good in the pre-Bill Walsh days. I was a proto or neophyte hippie and the OTT exploits of the renegade Raiders enthralled me. My father broke down and took me to some Raider games and I remember the blue collar frenzy of the fans as opposed to the polite buttondown 49er faithful.

I recall seeing George Blanda limp on to the field in relief of starter Daryle Lamonica and work his magic. My father may have preferred the Niners but, like everyone else in the US and A, was captivated by a 40-something guy playing like a kid with gray hair. Blanda was no longer a phenom but he became a pop culture phenomenon. I always called him the Ageless Wonder hence the post title. I guess I was channelingGrantland Rice or something…

I lost interest in the Raiders when John Madden quit and they traded Kenny Stabler and gravitated back to the 49ers, which became more fun with the arrival of Bill Walsh and Joe Montana. I remained a 49er fan until Steve Young retired, which led to much teasing and mockery after I arrived in NOLA. The Saints were then #2 in my pro football heart but once Young retired, I was off the hook.

Anyway, adieu George. You may have been named Blanda but you were never bland:

6 thoughts on “Clock runs out on Ageless Wonder

  1. That’s a whole lotta of bandwagon jumping. Jumping from Raiders to Niners, inexcusable, then to a divisional foe of Niners. Wow. How do your Yanks look this year?

  2. Raiders started move threats at that time. I live in NOLA so what can I say? It’s a civic duty here.
    Yankees I still hate. I’ve always been an SF Giants fan and still am in my lapsed baseball fan way.

  3. Nice post, A. Was thinking about this yesterday when I got the news. One of my kids said, “he looks like he’s going to cry.” Probably would have.
    There is a soft spot in my heart for guys who are too old, too young, too short, too weak, too whatever to do what it is that “real men” do and who actually do it.
    I still have a 1974 Blanda card. I looked at it the other day. The print on the back where they listed all of his stats must have been in 2 pt. type. Lotta history.

  4. I didn’t know Halas disliked him so much. I first heard of him way back when the NY Giants played the Chicago Bears. “Way back when”, does that make me an old malaka?
    He was a dyed-in-the-wool grid iron legend.

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