If Al Davis supplied the canvas and paint for the creation of Oakland Raiders mystique, George Blanda may have been the first man to grab a brush and get to work.
Of course he was. As the son of a Pennsylvania coal miner, Blanda grew up during the Great Depression and therefore understood the value of labor. He embraced its symbolism, allowed it to shape his persona. He was unfailingly blunt and opinionated -- and as tireless as he was ageless.
What made Blanda the athlete unique, though, was his utter defiance of age. He greeted his 40th birthday with a nod and a grunt, shook the cold hand of Father Time and told him where to go.