George Blanda (AP photo)
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - George Blanda, the seemingly ageless Hall of Fame quarterback and kicker whose 26-year career was best remembered for a remarkable run of late-game theatrics with the Oakland Raiders, has died. He was 83.
The Raiders confirmed the death Monday and issued a statement saying "we are deeply saddened by the passing of the great George Blanda. George was a brave Raider and a close personal friend of Raiders owner Al Davis."
Blanda retired a month shy of his 49th birthday before the 1976 season, playing longer than anyone else in pro football history. He spent 10 seasons with the Chicago Bears, part of one with the Baltimore Colts, seven with the Houston Oilers and his final nine with the Raiders.
He scored 2,002 points in his career, a pro football record at the time of his retirement, kicking 335 field goals and 943 extra points, running for nine touchdowns and throwing for 236 more.
But it was a five-game stretch fo r Oakland in 1970 that is the lasting imprint from his career. As a 43-year-old, Blanda led the Raiders to four wins and one tie with late touchdown passes or field goals.
Later that season, he became the oldest quarterback to play in a championship game, throwing two touchdown passes and kicking a field goal in Oakland's 27-17 loss to Baltimore in the AFC title game. His performance that season earned him The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.
Blanda joined the Oilers of the new American Football League in 1960 and played 16 more seasons before hanging it up for good following the 1975 campaign.
Blanda led the Oilers to the first two AFL titles, beating the Chargers for the championship following the 1960 and '61 seasons. He nearly won a third straight title when he led the Oilers back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to the Dallas Texans in the 1962 title game before losing in double overtime.
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