For all of the records the seemingly ageless Tom Brady piled up before finally putting an end to his career, there’s at least one age-related passing record he won’t get. The man who owns the NFL mark for the most passing yards and touchdowns thrown by a quarterback age 45 and older is still George Blanda.
He, too, seemed to play forever and while Blanda didn’t win seven NFL titles like Brady, he did win three AFL championships, is in the Hall of Fame and honestly, his career is probably more interesting than Brady’s.
Besides, George actually looked like an old guy playing football.
Blanda played in parts of four decades–one of only two players in history to do that. His career as a quarterback and kicker spanned 26 seasons. He even played some defense early in his career.
Another Blanda record–one he shares with seven other quarterbacks–is most touchdown passes in a game with seven.
Here, then, are seven great George Blanda football cards to collect from throughout his career.
1954 Bowman #23 (Rookie)
Blanda was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1949 but didn’t do much beyond kick until 1953 when he took over as first string quarterback. That’s why he’s in Bowman’s ’54 set. An injury led to his return to backup duty that year, though. Blanda and George Halas never did see eye to eye and George actually retired after the 1958 season, only to return and rejuvenate his career when a new league came along.
At current prices, Blanda’s rookie card is one of the best bargains of all Hall of Fame rookie cards and is not difficult to find, even in better grade.
1961 Fleer #166
The quintessential late bloomer, Blanda’s career took off in the AFL. Signing with the Houston Oilers at age 34, he became the league’s MVP in ’61 and led Houston to two championships. He led the AFL in passing yards (3,330) and touchdown passes (36).
He’s in the 1961 Topps set, too, as both companies were producing NFL and AFL cards that year, but Fleer was the only one to actually get a photo of him wearing the Oilers’ famed powder blues.
Even higher grade copies of this gem from the 2nd series cost less than a nice dinner out.
Blanda was among the faces of the AFL in the 60s, leading the league in pass attempts and completions from 1963-1965. For seven straight years, he ranked in the top ten for completions, yards and touchdowns.
The ’65 Topps Football set was Topps’ second as the sole maker of AFL cards and they tried something different with their giant sized rectangular cards in ’65–a set that also includes Joe Namath’s rookie card. The back makes reference to his 63 consecutive extra points made as a kicker, a remarkable record considering the sometimes less than reliable kicking games of the era.
Blanda’s ’65 Topps card is one of his most desirable and you can expect to pay $75 and up for a nicer copy–more for a graded one.
1968 Topps #142
This one gets our vote as the best looking Blanda card of all.
Coming off a spectacular ’67 season in which he revived his career yet again with Al Davis’ Raiders, Blanda offers an “I told you so” grin while offering a quarterback pose in front of that cool green and yellow ’68 Topps background.
He had led the AFL in scoring the year before with 116 points and made multiple clutch field goals as the Raiders won the league title and went on to play in Super Bowl II.
This one often has centering issues which makes high grade copies a bit pricey, but you can still own a very solid copy for under $20.
Blanda joined the Raiders in the late 1960s and in ’70 became the oldest quarterback ever to play in a game at age 43 when he famously came off the bench to throw a touchdown pass to tie a game against Cleveland, then kicked a 53-yard field goal with three seconds left for the 23–20 win. In ’72 at age 45, Blanda kicked 26 field goals and went 44-for-44 on extra points.
Sadly, there’s no ’70 Topps Blanda card, but he’s on both a regular card in ’72 and an In-Action card in the 3rd series–one that shows him with leg extended, doing what he’d been doing for more than 20 years. As a high number, it’s got some value, especially in higher grades.
Blanda didn’t play quarterback much during his last few seasons, but did throw the final pass of his career at age 48 in 1975, his last year as an active player. He also booted 13 field goals. He owned numerous records at the time and Topps honored him with a ‘Record Breaker’ card in ’75, listing him as “QB-Kicker” which was then and remains pretty awesome. The touches of gray in the hair and sideburns are a bonus.
You can pick one of these up for a couple of bucks.
1976 Topps #355
Blanda played his final game on January 4, 1976 in the playoffs and remains the oldest player in history at 48 years and 109 days. He showed up to the Raiders’ training camp in ’76 but was released, ending one of pro football’s most remarkable careers.
Topps, bless them, had already created a card for him, so much like Mickey Mantle’s 1969 card, the back is simply a complete statistical recap of his career. There wasn’t enough room to show his passing stats but the kicking numbers more than suffice. George, wearing a windbreaker on the sidelines, looks like a man ready to hang it up.
Blanda also kicked off the ’76 set as card #1 with another Record Breaker card that honored him as the first NFL player to reach 2,000 career points. Both are easy to grab for a minimal investment.
You can check out all of George Blanda’s cards on eBay here.