Tuesday, September 28, 2010

George Blanda 1927 - 2010

My eldest son thinks my propensity for rooting for veteran players or underdogs in sports developed with age. Not really. It is most likely the result of having witnessed George Blanda come off the bench to singlehandedly win five straight games for the Oakland Raiders in 1970 and being named the AFC Player Of The Year that season. He was 43 at the time and looked a lot older than that. And he wasn't just the quarterback, he was the kicker too. He did what ever it took to win. John Madden said that not only did Blanda believe he would do it, the whole team did. And then the other teams started believing it. Owner Al Davis said that he was the greatest clutch player of all time.

He was my favorite player for the next four years and we never missed a tape-delayed Raider game on television in pre-satellite Hawaii. I have not watched the games on DVD since then. No need to. I remember them like it was yesterday. I think he taught me that it isn't always the fastest, biggest or most gifted that comes out on top. Sometimes it's the one who wants it the most and has the guts to go get it. George Blanda did and I appreciate the lesson.