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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: George Blanda, Forgotten Man?

Until Dermontti Dawson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012, UK had only produced 1 Hall of Famer in its football history.  I think most people know who that is, but to me, it seems like this man goes unnoticed when talking about the good points of UK football.  George Blanda is that guy.  Blanda is generally considered one of the 15-20 best quarterbacks in NFL history and holds a bunch of records that stand today.  Those include:

Most Touchdown Passes (Game): 7
Oldest Player to Play: 48 years old
Most extra points: 943
First Player to score over 2,000 points

To me, Blanda is hands down the best player to ever play at Kentucky.  So why is this not a slam dunk like Dan Issel is in basketball?  Is it because of the era that Blanda played at Kentucky?  I understand that most of our fans don’t remember the great days of the mid-1940’s.  But even still, shouldn’t we highlight this man more than we do?  Blanda died in 2010, and I don’t remember him being honored at a game in my lifetime.  I am certainly not saying it didn’t happen, but I just don’t remember there ever being a big celebration for him.

Could part of the reason be his numbers and success while at Kentucky was only so-so?  In his 2 years starting at Kentucky, he only went 13-6-2, with the Cats winning a bowl in 1947.  Clearly the passing game was not highlighted greatly by those Bear Bryant teams, as Blanda only completed 120 passes in those 2 seasons, throwing for 14 touchdowns.  But I would argue so what?  Especially in football, and especially at Kentucky, a person’s pro career is just as important and celebrated as the college one.  Until Dawson was elected to the Hall of Fame, I would imagine many younger fans didn’t even know Dawson played at Kentucky.

Not to compare ourselves to Louisville but they put up a statue of Johnny Unitas in their football stadium.  The same Unitas that had a LOSING RECORD while at Louisville.  George Blanda won a bowl game while in Lexington.  Why doesn’t UK have a statue for Blanda?  Essentially, UL is only honoring Unitas for his contributions and successes in the NFL.  And I think it’s a good thing.  That statue is shown during every televised UL game.  UK should do something similar for Blanda, who is probably the most notable UK player in history.  (maybe Randall Cobb will pass him soon)

Am I off-base?  Is George Blanda a forgotten man when it comes to UK football history?  And should UK do more to promote and highlight the career of 1 of their now 2 Hall of Famers?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

50 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: George Blanda, Forgotten Man?

    9:09 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    I remember watching him come off the bench to lead the Raiders to victories numerous times at the end of his career.
    I totally agree with you, BTI from one who witnessed the end of his glorious career.

  2. btowncatfan
    9:10 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Good post BTI, but you still suck. I agree, Blanda is kind of a forgotten guy in UK’s history.

  3. Duuuuuude
    9:12 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    I agree whole heartidly about Blanda having the best impact on the game as a whole and in the NFL. I am not sure about who had the best college career at UK. Still though, Blanda should receive much more recognition than he does. Most younger KSR readers may not have even heard of him prior to this post.

    The only place I see former great players recognized are their names painted on the wall that divides the upper and lower sections of Commonwealth Stadium.

  4. bung
    9:15 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    good post…yes on statue…

  5. JoAnne
    9:18 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Do we want a statue for that greasy Ilalian? Hell no

  6. asdf
    9:19 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Blanda is unfairly forgotten because it was so long ago. Just like the Fab Five, who were collectively our best basketball team ever, not enough people can remember seeing them in their prime. Thanks for bringing Blanda some much deserved attention!

  7. Al Davis
    9:23 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Hell yeah on the statue!

  8. Keyzer Söze
    9:24 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Got to hand it to you, very solid argument of the clear under representation UK had of their biggest star from the gridiron. Blanda was a man’s man kind of player, despite also being a punter and kicker, and just an all around good dude. Only Kentucky, and for a while only Raider, in the HOF. Honor him in memory, cause UK sure as hell wasn’t during his lifetime.

  9. Art Still
    9:25 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Art Still. His college stats were matched by his pro stats. He might not be in the HOF, but he is certainly one of the most impactive UK players at both levels.

  10. joe joe
    9:27 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Maybe a statue of Cobb and Blanda giving each other a high five? Or Blanda on one side throwing a ball to Cobb?
    Okay, maybe not…

  11. Buddy
    9:27 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    He is absolutely the “forgotten man” in UK football. Some type of recognition for his accomplishments would be more than appropriate with the remodel/upgrade of Commonwealth Stadium.

  12. RexRox
    9:28 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Totally agree, Bryan. Some younger readers may not know much about him but he was one of the most unique players in NFL history, particularly that almost unbelievable season of 1970. He seemed to be performing a miracle for the Raiders every week. Yes on the statue!

  13. Experience
    9:33 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Now there was football player! I’m just starting to follow UK football after being a UK basketball fan since ’73. I had no idea Blanda played at UK, he was one of my Dad’s favorites and I enjoyed watching him too. 48 year old NFL player can you imagine what a Monday felt like to him!

  14. CATandMONKEY
    9:42 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    BTI is right.

  15. Commish
    9:45 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Totally 100% agree…KSR needs to promote and sponsor this movement

  16. daryl lamonica
    9:50 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Definitely. He bailed me out in several games!

  17. dylan
    9:51 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Great idea, I agree totally. remember your post a month or two ago about football tradition? How about every game the players for luck touch the Blanda statue? I think it’d stand alone. Love the thought, maybe part of commonwealth’s 100 mil renovation should include this statue

  18. Joe
    9:52 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Blanda is too often forgotten, in part because of the pre-video era and in part because he was followed by a QB who was even more successful at UK, Babe Parilli.

  19. fred billetnikoff
    9:53 am August 20, 2013 Permalink


  20. john madden
    9:53 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Hell yeah!!

  21. Ben Davidson
    9:54 am August 20, 2013 Permalink


  22. FFF70
    9:56 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Yes to statue!!!

  23. Joe T
    9:58 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    I have been saying that Blanda deserved a statue or some sort of recognition since the 90’s. The football program does have some history. They just don’t celebrate it and utilize it as a tool to their advantage. Hopefully, that will change.

  24. barn
    10:03 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    it should be made of iron

  25. Go Deep
    10:19 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Two statues should be built, Blanda and Dawson.

  26. Axe Cop
    10:20 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Damn he’s grizzled!

  27. Debbie Dooley
    10:33 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Is he 70 years old in that picture?

  28. MustangCat
    10:46 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Should have a statue of Blanda and Art Still. Maybe even one of Dawson. We should angle for being “Statue U.”!?!?! The team could touch each one in the cat walk!! Couch would need one at some point, because of his UK career and #1 pick status. I don’t consider him a bust because Cleveland was the bust, not Tim. He was put through the meat grinder. Bradshaw couldn’t have survived any better there, or Big Ben, Payton, Montana, Young, Aikman, Staubauch, or Brady. Cobb and Woodson, and Stevie need to be in this conversation. If we can have a statue of Hall??? Sorry, but that’s almost embarrassing.

  29. Ratso
    10:49 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Okay, talk is cheap. Let’s do it. Get Blanda recognized as he should be. And, for Debbie in Dallas, I am 70. So what?

  30. Chris Montgomery
    10:54 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    AMEN! and Thank You!

  31. Admiral Halsey
    11:09 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    With out a shadow of a doubt YES!!!!

  32. Ghost of Bear
    11:18 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Shouldn’t CM’s statue go up first considering all he’s done to the football program? On second, thought shouldn’t he have a statue at Papa John’s for all he did for that program too??

  33. NotSatire
    11:39 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    No statue please.

  34. JDH
    11:39 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    I agree, BTI. This might just be your best post ever!!!

  35. JDH
    11:41 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    I agree with No. 25 also.

  36. D
    11:47 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    For Sure, YES!

  37. Kenny Stabler
    11:54 am August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Damn Right!
    Good Job BTI! Best yet!

  38. Kenny Stabler
    11:59 am August 20, 2013 Permalink
    UK Hall of Fame

    #SorryTeddyBridgewater #SorryJohnnyManziel

  39. You're wrong
    12:46 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Went to the epic Arkansas game that tied for the second longest football game in NCAA history (at the time). They handed out George Blanda cards which included his stats and did a small commemoration for him at some point during the game.

  40. chief_cat
    12:49 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Without a doubt there should be a statue of Blanda at UK. One of a kind player!

  41. chief_cat
    12:56 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Perhaps as forgotten though is Jeff Van Note, who played DE and RB for UK in the mid 60s. He was drafted late by the Falcons as a potential LB but was moved to center eventually. He wound up playing for 18 years with the Falcons and made 6 Pro Bowls. The Falcons retired his jersey number (57) several years ago.

  42. Bandwagoner says
    2:22 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    #13 is the worst kind of fan. Seriously, “just now starting to follow UK football” after 40 yrs. of basketball fandom? Good grief!

  43. VandyCat
    2:29 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Appreciate the post BTI. Know how hard it is to find something thought-provoking to post, but this is a good one. Wouldn’t it be great to see UK do something like this as part of the renovation? It’d be great to honor UK football greats like Bear Bryant, Bob Gain, Blanda, Parilli, Meilinger, Schnellenberger, Lou Michaels, Art Still, Dermontti Dawson, Tim Couch, and maybe even Coach Claiborne (he’s in the College Football Hall of Fame). My personal favorite, Moe Williams, probably would have no shot, but I’m still throwing his name out there.

  44. VandyCat
    2:31 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    And Van Note – you’re absolutely right #41. Wonder who else I’m leaving out?

  45. Bunny
    3:32 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Good post, BTI! Agree 100%.

  46. idontflinch
    3:52 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Yes to Blanda’s statue. Also, yes to a statue for every other UK player who has been elected or who gets elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  47. TrueBlueDave
    5:37 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    Honoring Blanda is long overdue! He was and iron man. Another of that era I would mention is Vito “Babe” Parilli. Hd was a wizard at ball handling. Coach Bryant had a couple of outstandig quarterbacks in those two! Boy, this bring back a lot of memories!

  48. Caros Danger
    6:07 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    I was a big fan of Blanda in the AFL/NFL. I would like to see a series of busts, in large plaque form, on the facade of the new and improved Commonwealth Stadium. Guys like Blanda, Parelli, Couch, Dawson and of course the guy who led us to our only national championship… Paul “Bear” Bryant. It needs to be started now so future stars can strive to have their bust on the facade.

  49. Yep
    7:05 pm August 20, 2013 Permalink

    I like the idea of the statues. I wonder how long the state senate will have to debate the merit of it?

  50. Charlie Warrior
    1:32 am August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Have to agree with #1 above. Toward the end of his career, he consistently brought the Raiders from behind in their glory years. In the seventies, I was at a Raiders game when Oakland hosted the Bengals… what I recall was the Bengals with a late game lead and the Raiders making ANOTHER amazing comeback.

    Blanda was amazing in the NFL… great quarterback when the game was on the line, an excellent punter and kicker. Haven’t seen anyone with such diverse skills since his time!

    Would absolutely love to see his statue at UK….(perhaps kicking the feathers off a dirty red bird! lol)