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In what might have been his final media interview, George Blanda talked last month about the connection he felt with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, 40.

"I knew I would be cut one day. But I never thought I would retire," said Blanda, the Oakland Raiders legend who died Monday at the age of 83.

More than four decades before Favre joined the Vikings last season at age 39, Blanda was signed by the Raiders in 1967 as a place-kicker and backup to quarterback Daryle Lamonica. The new kid in the locker room was 40 years old and already a veteran of 17 professional football seasons.

"I wasn't old. Age is a frame of mind," said Blanda, who wound up playing nine seasons for the Raiders and retired a month shy of his 49th birthday. "If Brett Favre thought he was old, he wouldn't be playing. I root for Brett all the time.

"You never want to give it up. You always think you're capable, always think you're better than the other guy."

Blanda often was better than the other guy, never more so than in 1970 when he strung together a series of stunning performances that cemented his Pro Football Hall of Fame credentials.

Briefly released during the '70 preseason, he returned to engineer four victories and a tie during a five-week span that dazzled Bay Area fans, starting Oct. 25 when he came off the bench to throw three touchdown passes -- two to Raymond Chester -- in a 31-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.


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"I never even reflect on those five games. I've had so many more exciting games I've played in during my career," he said. "Everybody picks out those (because of his age). That made it unique."

After the season, Blanda became the NFL's oldest Player of Year (Bert Bell Award) at 43.

By the time he was released on the eve of the 1976 season, Blanda had thrown 236 career touchdown passes and scored 2,002 points, a record at the time.

"I wish I could have played more," he said.