George Frederick Blanda (''The Grand Old Man'') (September 17 1927 September 27 2010) was a American football quarterback and placekicker. The son of a Slovak-born Pittsburgh-area coal miner Blanda has the distinction of having played 26 seasons of professional football the most in the sport's history and had scored more points than anyone in history at the time of his retirement. Blanda retired from pro football in 1976 at the age of 48. He was one of only two players to play in four different decades (John Carney 1988-2010 is the other) and he holds the record for most extra points kicked. He was married to Betty Harris from December 17 1949 until his death on September 27 2010. He had two children. Chicago Bears Blanda was signed by the Chicago Bears for $600 in 1949 an amount owner George Halas demanded back when he made the team. While primarily used as a quarterback and placekicker Blanda also saw time on the defensive side of the ball at linebacker. It would not be until 1953 that Blanda would emerge as the Bears' top signal caller but an injury the following year effectively ended his first-string status. For the next four years he was used mostly in a kicking capacity. Later commenting on his testy relationship with Halas Blanda noted ''he was too cheap to even buy me a kicking shoe.'' Blanda later reflected that by the 1950s the pro game had moved beyond Halas who seemed to lack the interest he had earlier. Houston Oilers Blanda retired after the 1958 NFL season because of Halas' insistence on only using him as a kicker but returned in 1960 upon the formation of the American Football League. He signed with the Houston Oilers as both a quarterback and kicker. He was derided by the sports media as an ''NFL Reject'' but he went on to lead the Oilers to the first two league titles in AFL history and he was the All-AFL quarterback and won AFL Player of the Year honors in 1961. During that season he led the AFL in passing yards (3330) and touchdown passes (36). His 36 touchdown passes in 1961 were the most ever thrown by any NFL/AFL quarterback in a single season until matched by Y.A. Tittle of the NFL New York Giants just two years later in 1963. Blanda's and Tittle's mark would remain the record until surpassed by Dan Marino's 48 touchdown passes in 1984. Blanda's 42 interceptions thrown in 1962 is a record that still stands. During 1962 he had two 400-yard passing days for the Oilers: a 464-yard effort against the Buffalo Bills on October 29 with four touchdown passes (winning 28 16): and 418 yards three weeks later against the Titans of New York this time with seven touchdown passes in a 49 13 victory. Blanda passed for 36 touchdowns that season. On 13 occasions he connected on four or more touchdown passes during a game and on November 1 1964 unleashed 68 passes for Houston against the Buffalo Bills. From 1963 to 1965 Blanda led the AFL in passing attempts and completions and ranked in the top ten for attempts completions yards and touchdowns during seven consecutive seasons. A four-time member of the American Football League All-Star team Blanda's already-long career seemed over when he was released by the Oilers on March 18 1967. However the Oakland Raiders signed him that July seeing his potential as a contributing backup passer and a dependable kicker. In later years Blanda would remain a strong supporter of AFL heritage saying: ''That first year the Houston Oilers or Los Angeles Chargers (24 16 losers to the Oilers in the title game) could have beaten the NFL champion (Philadelphia) in a Super Bowl.'' Blanda said further: ''I think the AFL was capable of beating the NFL in a Super Bowl game as far back as 1960 or '61. I just regret we didn't get the chance to prove it.'' Oakland Raiders In 1967 during Blanda's first season with the Raiders his kicking skills helped him lead the AFL in scoring with 116 points. In two instances his leg helped play a role in Raider victories: a trio of field goals helped upset the defending league champion Kansas City Chiefs on October 1: in the closing weeks of the regular season Blanda booted four field goals behind a hostile Houston crowd in a 19 7 victory over his former team the Oilers helping gain a measure of revenge. The Raiders went on to compete in Super Bowl II but lost the final two AFL Championship games in the 10-year history of the league. In 1970 Blanda was released during the exhibition season but bounced back to establish his 21st professional season. That season (1970) Blanda at age 43 had a remarkable five-game run. Against the Steelers Blanda threw for three touchdowns in relief of an injured Daryle Lamonica. One week later his 48-yard field goal with three seconds remaining salvaged a 17 17 tie with the Kansas City Chiefs. On November 8 Blanda once again came off the bench to throw for a touchdown pass to tie the Cleveland Browns with 1:34 remaining then kicked a 53-yard field goal with 0:03 left for the 23 20 win. Immediately after the winning field goal Raiders radio announcer Bill King excitedly declared ''George Blanda has just been elected King of the World!'' In the team's next game Blanda replaced Lamonica in the fourth quarter and connected with Fred Biletnikoff on a touchdown pass with 2:28 left in the game to defeat the Denver Broncos 24 19. The streak concluded one week later when Blanda's 16-yard field goal in the closing seconds defeated the San Diego Chargers 20 17. In the AFC title game against the Baltimore Colts Blanda again relieved an injured Lamonica completing 17 of 32 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns while also kicking a 48-yard field goal and two extra points keeping the Raiders in the game until the final quarter when he was intercepted twice. Aged 43 he became the oldest quarterback ever to play in a championship game and was one of the few remaining straight-ahead kickers in the NFL. Blanda's achievements resulted in his winning the Bert Bell Award. Chiefs' owner Lamar Hunt said ''Why this George Blanda is as good as his father who used to play for Houston.'' Although he never again played a major role at quarterback Blanda would serve as the Raiders' kicker for five more seasons. He played in his last game at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium on January 4 1976 at age 48 in the 1975 AFC Championship Game where he kicked a 41-yard field goal and made one extra point as the Raiders lost to the Steelers 16 10.