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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Passing of George Blanda

George Blanda 1971 Topps card VGI can mark most of my teenage years by looking at old baseball or football cards. When I heard George Blanda, 83, died this week, I recalled his 1971 card (pictured). I was only five when it was released, but since he played up into the mid-70s, I remember seeing him play.

I was astounded he could play both quarterback and kicker. His 1971 card even showed both positions. That's what made it valuable to me. This was before I realized card collecting was a business, which caused my view of the hobby to be skewed.

The funny thing is, I was never a Raiders fan. I was, and remain, a Steelers fan -- so that made me a Raider hater. But I still always respected Blanda. I was only 9 when he retired, but he reminded me of the way my friends and I played football at the park. We played multiple positions and rarely left the field. As I was reading some of the tributes to Blanda since his passing, I read a line from an article written by Peter Richmond on the Sports Illustrated website that nailed the way I felt:

"Blanda was the old-world guy, with one foot back in the days of the Decatur Staleys [the original name for the Chicago Bears in 1920-21], an athlete who would pass for the touchdown, kick the extra point, and then, if necessary kick the game-winning field goal. Blanda represented football."


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