The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Two Raiders Lead the List

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There are two Oakland Raiders who made perhaps the greatest strides past the age of 40 - George Blanda and Jerry Rice.

In 1970, placekicker/backup quarterback Blanda had a few weeks for the ages. After being put on waivers before the 1970 season by Al Davis, Blanda was reclaimed and proved the wisdom behind his roster spot. Starting on October 25, when his three touchdown passes and field goal beat the Steelers, Blanda took the nation by storm. The next week, a 48-yard boot tied the Chiefs. Then, there was the touchdown pass and field goal as time was running out against the Browns to take the game. Then, he threw the late touchdown strike that defeated the Broncos. He ended this amazing run in late November with another late field goal to beat the Chargers. That season, Blanda became the oldest quarterback to play in a conference championship game and accounted for all 17 of Oakland's points in a loss to the Baltimore Colts. Blanda was named the AP Male Athlete of the Year, and the Sporting News AFC Player of the Year.

He was 43 at the time.

Blanda played until 1976 and retired at the ripe young age of 49. No position player participated in more than Blanda's 340 games, and nobody else can boast a career 26 years long. Not only did he have a great career when most guys his age were taking naps in their Barca-Loungers, he was also one of the best quarterbacks in the early days of the American Football League.

As for Rice ... well, he's got every other significant achievement; why not this one? He turned 40 in October of 2002, and celebrated the day by catching seven passes for 133 yards against the Rams. He had three more 100-yard receiving games that season after that game, went to the Pro Bowl, and helped the Raiders win the AFC Championship with his best season since 1996. Rice's last gasps in the NFL were regrettable - wearing Steve Largent's number in Seattle and trying to catch on with the Broncos - but it's worth remembering that the greatest receiver ever to play the game still had it when the big four-oh came calling.

By Doug Farrar  |  July 20, 2009; 8:03 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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