Chicago Bears Top 100: #32 George Blanda

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The dog days of the offseason are finally behind us now that training camp is underway, just in time for our countdown of the Top 100 Chicago Bears of all time to really heat up.  As we get closer to the season opener, we get closer to naming the #1 Chicago Bear of all time.

Next up on our Top 100 Chicago Bears of all time is #32 on the list, Hall of Famer George Blanda.  While Blanda earned most of his accolades as a member of the Oakland Raiders, it was his humble beginnings with the Chicago Bears that paved the way to Canton.

The Chicago Bears selected Blanda in the twelfth round of the 1949 NFL Draft (119th overall) out of Kentucky.  Blanda signed with the Bears for $600, an amount that George Halas demanded to get back when he made the team.  Upon joining the Bears, he was used primarily as a quarterback and placekicker, but also saw some action as a linebacker.  It wasn’t until 1953 that Blanda became the Bears starting quarterback.  He threw for 241 yards per game in ’53 before an injury the next season ended his run as Bears starting quarterback.

The next four season, Blanda was used by Halas and the Bears primarily as a placekicker.  In his career with the Bears, Blanda notched 541 points, good for 5th all time in scoring all time.  Blanda retired from the Bears after the 1958 season, tired of being used only as a kicker.  He joined the AFL’s Houston Oilers in their inaugural season in 1960 and went on to play another 15 season with the Oilers and Raiders.  It’s a good thing the Bears didn’t use him as a quarterback, as he went on to only throw for over 19,000 yards, 165 touchdowns to go with 189 interceptions over 7 seasons with the Oilers before finishing his career as the Raiders kicker for 9 more seasons.

Blanda went on to set a number of records including 7 TD throws in a game and most INT’s in a season with 42 – and that was when they only played 14 games a season.  He was one of only two players to play in four decades and his 26 seasons played are most in league history.  He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.  He passed away in September of 2010 at the age of 83.

What do you think of the ranking?  Too high?  Too low?  I guess you’ll have to check back to see who finished ahead of him to judge for yourself.  We’ll be counting down a different person each day as we inch our way to the September 7th season opener.

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