Tennessee Titans: 30 greatest players in franchise history
By John Buhler
- Pro Football Hall of Fame (Class of 1981)
- AFL All-Time Team
- 2x AFL Champion w/Oilers (1960-61)
- AFL MVP (1961)
- 3x AFL All-Star w/Oilers (1961-63)
- First-Team All-AFL (1961)
- 2x Second-Team All-AFL (1962-63)
George Blanda played professional football for seemingly forever. No, seriously. Blanda holds the NFL record of 26 professional seasons played. After starring at the University of Kentucky, he first played in the NFL with the Chicago Bears way back in 1949. His 10 years in the league from 1949 to 1958 were nondescript, but his quarterbacking and placekicking abilities would have another life in a new league in 1960.
Blanda initially hung up the spikes in 1958 when then legendary Bears head coach George Halas threatened to only use him as a kicker going forward. Turns out, Blanda had a few more good years as a signal caller left in the tank. He played seven seasons in the AFL with the Oilers from 1960 to 1966. Add in an additional nine years as a kicker for the Oakland Raiders after that and no wonder the guy made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Essentially, Blanda’s career was split up into three stages. The first being a good kicker and mediocre quarterback with the Bears in the 1950s. His next phase came in the early to mid-1960s as a star quarterback/kicker for the Oilers in the NFL. Blanda’s last phase of his career was being an ageless wonder at kicker for the Raiders in the 1970s.
Longevity was key in appreciating Blanda’s football life. But just how good was he at his apex and when did that happened? Well, that coincided during his first few years in the AFL with the Oilers. The Oilers won back-to-back AFL Championships in 1960 and 1961. Blanda won AFL MVP in 1961, making the All-AFL First-Team and the AFL All-Star Game in the process.
Blanda made two more AFL All-Star Games with the Oilers in 1962 and 1963, as well as a pair of All-AFL Second-Team honors in both of those campaigns. He made his fourth and final AFL All-Star Game in 1967 in his first year with the Raiders.
As a quarterback for the Oilers, Blanda went 44-38 in 82 career starts for Houston. He completed 48.4 percent of his passes for 19,149 yards, 165 touchdowns and 189 interceptions in seven years with the team.
As a placekicker, he made 48.1 percent of his field goals and 98.4 percent of his point after attempts in Houston. Blanda would proved to be a more accurate field goal kicker in Oakland (62.7 percent) to close out his career.
Blanda would retire for the final time in 1975. He earned Canton enshrinement in 1981 on his first ballot. His Pro Football Hall of Fame classmates include Morris “Red” Badgro, Willie Davis and Jim Ringo. It should be noted that Blanda did make the AFL All-Time Team as one of the best quarterbacks and kickers in the history of that football league.