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Blanda and Remembrance of Things Passed

Posted by Randy Lange on September 28, 2010 – 4:48 pm

George Blanda’s passing on Monday at the age of 83 is a cause for remorse, remembrance and one more celebration of the career of one of the greatest AFL/NFL players ever who was a thorn in the side of the early New York Titans and Jets teams.

And fans of the Jets’ predecessors never cursed louder or secretly admired Blanda more as a competitor than on Nov. 19, 1961, when he tied the pro football record by throwing seven touchdown passes against the Titans at Jeppesen Stadium.

“What people don’t know is when we look at the film, Blanda probably could have topped that number,” Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, said in the Los Angeles Times. “They were routing the Titans, and Blanda came out of the game early in the second half. He had seven touchdown passes midway through the third quarter when they took him out.”

Just for the record, Blanda’s last scoring pass that day came early in the fourth quarter. Blanda hit Charley Hennigan with a 28-yard strike to start the scoring, then followed with three TDs to Billy Cannon (6, 78 and 6 yards) and three to Bill Groman (66, 46, 11) in the Oilers’ 49-13 win.

That seven-TD passing performance tied the record set by Sid Luckman for the Bears in 1943 and Adrian Burk for the Eagles in ’54. The Giants’ Y.A. Tittle in 1962 and Joe Kapp of Minnesota in 1969 equaled it but no QB in pro football history has ever surpassed

Blanda followed that up three weeks later with three more TD passes in a 48-21 win over the Titans at the Polo Grounds. He also did all the placekicking in those games and so of Houston’s 97 points in the home-and-home that season, he was responsible for 79 of them.

And then, for anyone who doubted if he could do it again, Blanda did it again with six touchdowns against the Titans the next season at Jeppesen.

In 15 career games vs. the Jets/Titans from 1960-70, Blanda had a pretty good “season”: 223-for-425, 3,011 yards, 32 TDs, 22 INTs. But of course his career was Hall of Fame material: AFL Player of the Year in 1961 with a then-record 36 touchdown passes, 236 TDs and almost 27,000 yards for his career and an NFL-record 26 seasons played for the Bears, Colts, Oilers and Raiders.

“All of us at the Pro Football Hall of Fame are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a great friend and a truly iconic figure in pro football history,” said Steve Perry, the Hall’s president and executive director. “A seemingly ageless wonder, George inspired legions of fans over a 26-year career, with his clutch performances as a quarterback and place kicker. He will be truly missed.”


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Posted in Randy Lange | 8 Comments »


8 Responses to “Blanda and Remembrance of Things Passed”

  1. By wayne on Sep 28, 2010 | Reply

    R.I.P. Mr. George Blanda. Men of your ilk are sorely missing from this game of football.

  2. By IRA on Sep 29, 2010 | Reply

    Randy, Didn’t realize Blanda had a 7 TD pass day. And Cannon was a great player too. Was Blanda the QB that threw a pass on the last play of the game in the 1st or 2nd year of the AFL in a championship game when a fan cam out ogf the stands and knocked it down and the refs didn’t replay the play? Thats how the game ended. I saw that play on Sabol’s series of lost NFL Treasures.

  3. By TONY GARCIA on Sep 29, 2010 | Reply

    i saw him play several times early 70′s against dolphins in orange bowl.
    he was the real iron man.i saw many great games in the ORANGE BOWL im fortunate saw greatest game SAN DIEGO VS MIAMI. saw walt micheals jets dominate series thier . also my MIAMI HURRICANES FROM LOU SABAN era thru the year 2000

  4. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Sep 29, 2010 | Reply

    Blanda’s greatest accomplishment bar none, and one rarely repeated much less matched since, was showing class in a Raider uniform.

  5. By CCY on Sep 29, 2010 | Reply

    Who was the last full time player who also kicked on a regular basis? Was it Blanda? Anyone know? I remember Verlon Biggs kicking-off (but not PK’ing) for the Jets.

  6. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Sep 29, 2010 | Reply

    That’s a good question, CCY. Probably Blanda. Before that, Groza? Paul Maguire if you’re counting punts?

  7. By Ray on Sep 29, 2010 | Reply

    One of my memories of Blanda was the year, and I’m not sure exactly what year ’73 maybe, when Lamonica got injured and they sent in Blanda. Being a kid I couldn’t believe they were using their kicker as the QB. I had no idea the he was once a top notch qb. Then he throws some last second bomb to win the game……I can still see the Jets players lying face down in the end zone pounding and kicking the ground. An early baptism of heartbreak. Little did I know how many times that feeling would be repeated….

  8. By Brian Morgan on Sep 29, 2010 | Reply

    Blanda was a great ball player. A real man’s man – when that meant something.

    I’m surprised there aren’t any films of him passing the ball to himself for a touchdown and then kicking the extra point. He was something else.

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