The sports world lost one of its legendary stars on Monday with the passing of Hall of Fame quarterback and kicker George Blanda at the age of 83. Unlike no other player before him or since, Blanda truly had two separate careers in pro football that combined to make him one of the legendary players of his era (or eras).
Blanda, who played a record 26 years in professional football and didn’t retire from the NFL until the age of 48, is best remembered for his nine-year stint as the crusty old kicker and miracle maker for the Oakland Raiders of the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, his career transcended generations and connected legends.
Originally from western Pennsylvania, Blanda traveled to the University of Kentucky to play college football. It was there that he had his first encounter with a sports legend as Paul “Bear” Bryant became head coach of the Wildcats prior to Blanda’s sophomore season.