George Blanda, who played longer than anyone in pro football history and racked up the most points in a career that spanned four decades, mostly with the Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders, died Monday. He was 83.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of the great George Blanda,” the Raiders said Monday in confirming his death. “George was a brave Raider and a close personal friend of Raiders owner Al Davis.”
The Pro Football Hall of Fame said on its website that Blanda died Monday after a brief illness.
Blanda retired a month shy of his 49th birthday before the 1976 season. He spent 10 seasons with the Bears, part of one with the Baltimore Colts, seven with the Houston Oilers and his final nine with the Raiders.
Never miss a local story.
He held the pro scoring record when he retired, with 2,002 points. He kicked 335 field goals and 943 extra points, running for nine touchdowns and throwing for 236 more.
He also threw for 26,920 yards and held the pro football record with 277 interceptions until Brett Favre passed him in 2007. His points record stood until it was topped by several players in recent years.
“It certainly doesn’t bother me,” Blanda said about losing the scoring record. “The one record I was happy to get rid of was the one for the most interceptions, when Brett Favre got that one.”
It was a five-game stretch for Oakland in 1970 that is the lasting imprint of his career. As a 43-year-old, Blanda led the Raiders to four wins and one tie with late touchdown passes or field goals.
Later that season, he became the oldest quarterback to play in a championship game, throwing two touchdown passes and kicking a field goal in Oakland’s 27-17 loss to Baltimore in the AFC title game. His performance that season earned him The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.
“George Blanda will always be remembered as a legend of our game,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
MONDAY NIGHT GAME
At Chicago 20, Packers 17: Jay Cutler threw for 221 yards, Brian Urlacher forced a key fumble and the Bears took advantage of a team-record-tying 17 penalties by the Packers.
The Packers’ James Jones lost a fumble on a hit by Brian Urlacher in the final minutes. Then Morgan Burnett was called for pass interference on Earl Bennett, setting up the winning 19-yard field goal by Robbie Gould with 4 seconds left.
Chicago is 3-0 and alone atop the NFC North. The Packers fell to 2-1.
NINERS FIRE RAYE
San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye was dismissed Monday, one day after San Francisco lost at Kansas City, 31-10, to fall to 0-3. The 49ers have scored 38 points, second fewest in the NFL behind Carolina.
Mike Johnson will move from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Offensive assistant Jason Michael will take over as quarterbacks coach.
The 49ers were considered a favorite in the NFC West this year, but their offense has stalled, plagued by turnovers and a weak running game.
Kansas City coach Todd Haley said offensive coordinator Charlie Weis does not have a “life threatening condition,” disputing a report. Weis had emergency gall bladder surgery Monday. … The Bills released quarterback Trent Edwards in a surprise move that came a week after he lost the starting job for a second straight season. … An MRI exam revealed Rams running back Steven Jackson has a groin strain, and his availability is day to day. … The Jaguars released defensive back Michael Coe after he got beat for a 61-yard TD against Philadelphia, and re-signed safety Gerald Alexander.