George Blanda Biography

George Blanda, known as ‘The Grand Old Man’, holds the remarkable distinction of being the only player to have played 26 seasons of professional football in American history. His career began as a quarterback and kicker at the University of Kentucky, under the guidance of the legendary Bear Bryant. After college, he joined the Chicago Bears as a kicker but soon sought a change. Joining the Houstan Oilers, Blanda had the opportunity to showcase his skills as both a quarterback and a kicker, earning him the title of AFL Player of the Year. With his exceptional talent, unmatched football techniques, and unwavering energy, Blanda set numerous records throughout his illustrious career, many of which remain unbroken.

Quick Facts

  • Nick Name: The Grand Old Man
  • Also Known As: George Frederick Blanda
  • Died At Age: 83
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Betty Harris
    • Father: Michael
    • Mother: Mary
  • American Football Players
  • American Men
  • Died on: September 27, 2010
  • Place of death: Alameda, California, United States
  • U.S. State: Pennsylvania
  • Ancestry: Slovak American
  • Cause of Death: Illness
  • Notable Alumni: University Of Kentucky
  • Education: University Of Kentucky

Childhood & Early Life

George Blanda was born as one of the several children of Michael and Mary Blanda. His father worked as a coal miner and often found himself out of work when coal mines were closed. Growing up in a large family as a coal miner’s son, George was no stranger to poverty.

Tall and athletic, young George sought solace in football and excelled as a quarterback, kicker, and blocker even as a teen. He went to Youngwood High School where he played not only football but also basketball and participated in track and field.

He enrolled at the University of Kentucky where he was coached by the legendary Bear Bryant. He played as a quarterback and kicker and thrived under the coaching of Bryant. He ended his collegiate career at Kentucky with 120 completions in 242 passes with 12 touchdowns.


After college, he signed a contract with the Chicago Bears for $600 in 1949. There he primarily played as a quarterback and place kicker; he also sometimes played as a linebacker. Playing for the Bears, he was mostly used in a kicking capacity. He was an athletically built young man and could blast long field goals.

In 1960, he signed with the Houston Oilers where he got the chance to play both as a quarterback and kicker. Playing as a quarterback was his passion and this move helped him tap into his hitherto hidden talents. In 1961, he won AFL Player of the Year honors. He had scored 36 touchdown passes which were the most ever thrown by a quarterback at that time. The next year also was a great one for him as he threw 42 interceptions.

Over the next few seasons from 1963 to 1965, he led the AFL in passing attempts and completions. In 1964, he scored 68 passes against the Buffalo Bills in just one day! He also proved to be among the best in attempts, completions, and touchdowns.

The Houston Oilers released him in 1967. By now he had played for 18 years—a very long time for a football professional. It was expected that this would signal his retirement. Little did the football fans know that he was yet to give his best ever performance! The Oakland Raiders recognized that this player still had the potential and signed him in 1967. Blanda was already 40 by this time!

He led the AFL with 116 points in two instances during 1967. He helped his team secure a 19-7 victory against his former team, the Houston Oilers. The Raiders qualified to compete in Super Bowl II but lost the final match.

He gave his best ever performance in the 1971 season when he was 43 years old. He kicked a 48-yard field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs. He bettered his performance with a 53-yard field goal against the Cleveland Browns.

He played his last game in 1976 when he was 48 and finished off his glorious career with a 41-yard field goal. Over his career spanning 26 seasons, he had scored 236 touchdowns, 277 interceptions, and earned a total of 2002 points.

Awards & Achievements

He was named American Football League Most Valuable Player in 1961 for scoring 187 of 362 passes for 3,330 yards and 36 touchdowns, for 216 points. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981 and was also elected to the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame. George Blanda was an awesome player who created many records, but the performance that makes him immortal is his 1970-71 season with the Oakland Raiders during which he played amazingly well and even kicked a 53-yard field goal—this at the age of 43!

Personal Life & Legacy

He fell in love with Betty Harris and married her in 1949. The couple would be happily married for 60 years until his death. This relationship produced two children. He died in 2010 after a short illness. He was 83 years old.


At 48 years and 109 days, this famous footballer became the oldest person to play in an NFL game.

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