Category Archives: George Blanda
George Blanda was one of the great stories of professional football. Twenty-six years in the AFL & NFL will do that. But not only did Blanda endure, he succeeded and late in his career, inspired 40-somethings all over the country with his physical exploits while playing against men literally half his age. While the video above doesn’t necessarily focus strictly on the AFL, Blanda talks about some of his inspirations, and what football meant to him.
The race was on in early 1960, to obtain talent for the newly-formed AFL teams. Securing a veteran quarterback with leadership experience would, of course, have been a primary goal for all teams. At the time, former Chicago Bears QB, George Blanda, was “retired” from football. This did not concern Los Angeles Chargers coach, Sid Gillman, who wrote up the following review of Blanda early in 1960.
One of the great things about the old AFL is the fantastic rivalries between teams. Chargers vs. Raiders. Raiders vs. Chiefs. Texans vs. Oilers…
A recent article on the Broncos.com website talks about the two games between the Denver Broncos and Houston Oilers in 1966. While not one of the league’s classic rivalries, author Jim Saccomano outlines the first matchup of the season that resulted in a 45-7 drubbing of the Broncos. Ode Burrell’s disparaging remarks about the Broncos fueled their fire for the rematch a few weeks later, which Saccomano will cover in his next installment.
Some of the early success of the AFL can be attributed to players with previous NFL experience who signed on with the new league and helped lend immediate leadership on the field. George Blanda was one of those players. Formerly a quarterback for the Chicago Bears, Blanda had been out of football for a year when the AFL began in 1960. After being courted by several teams, Blanda signed with Houston and promptly led the Oilers to AFL championships in 1960 and 1961. He eventually left the Oilers, but again reestablished himself, this time as a kicker and back-up quarterback with the Oakland Raiders. Blanda was the AFL Most Valuable Player in 1961, a three-time AFL champion, and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
by Guest Blogger, and author of Remember the AFL, Dave Steidel
MYTH: “AFL players were a bunch of ‘NFL Rejects’”.
In the NFL they were known as “the Phoenix” players. Rising from the ashes of one team only to be recreated and hit the highest of highs with another; players who had been put out to pasture or given up on because their time had passed.
One of those names could have been George Blanda, who after becoming the forgotten man in Chicago retired from pro football until he found new life and fame in the AFL by leading the Houston Oilers to three straight championship games including two AFL titles. Then when Houston changed quarterbacks with a youth movement in 1967 he help defeat his former team in yet another AFL championship game as an Oakland Raider as the league’s leading scorer. To the NFL media he was just a washed up quarterback trying to catch in a senseless new league.