117

Bye, George

“Waiting for the snap . . . fourth down . . . here it is . . .snap! spotted down! It’s kicked. That’s got a chance. That is — good! It’s good — Holy Toledo! Holy Toledo! This place has gone wild. I don’t believe it! I do not believe it! There are three seconds left in the game. If you can hear me, this place has gone wild . . . the Oakland Raiders 23! . . . the Cleveland Browns 20!

“George Blanda has just been elected king of the world! I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it! Holy Toledo! It went 53 . . . no 52 yards! George Blanda has just been elected king of the world!”

That was Raiders radio announcer Bill King’s call of George Blanda’s 52-yard field goal to beat the Cleveland Browns at the Coliseum on Nov. 20, 1970.

I remember it all, and not just because I’ve heard the replay dozens of time since as well as thousands of times in my mind. King’s inflection . . . “that’s got a chance . . . told listeners something truly remarkable was happening, and happening a week after Blanda pulled out a 17-17 tie with the Chiefs in Kansas City with a 48-yard field goal.

If you’re old enough to remember rollling your eyes when your parents told you stories about huddling around the radio as if it were a television set, you may remember that at the time Blanda was in his five-week streak of miracles, the NFL blackout rule was even more ridiculous than it is today.

Home games were blacked out. Period. Didn’t matter if it was a sellout or not. I watched the 17-17 tie with Kansas City on television (while at the same time listening to King on the radio, of course). The Cleveland game was for ears only, yet remains one of the most memorable moments in my mind in club history.

It was the quintissential Bill King call corresponding with the perfect Blanda moment. It happened when I was 12 years old, but thinking about it can bring chills to the spine, one of those instances that lets me know that although I haven’t been a fan for years, I remember what it’s like.

I was delighted when my dad eventually go a chance to get season tickets, even if they were only for half of the games for the first year or two.

I eventually met King, having covered a lot of baseball when he was the A’s radio announcer. I met Blanda only in passing, saying hello when introduced by a Raiders employee.

He had a reputation for being difficult with reporters, so I figured it was best if I didn’t mention to him that I remembered the time the Raiders practiced in my neighborhood at Chabot College in Hayward. My dad had heard about it somehow, and I rounded up a few friends to go watch.

We stood in the end zone as Blanda, square-toed shoe and all, practiced kicking field goals while a bunch of kids _ me included _ shagged balls. I don’t remember who the holder was, but the center was Jim Otto. Two future Hall of Famers getting in some work and entertaining some kids in the process.

Those are my most vivid Blanda memories.

A few more Blanda links:

My Blanda obituary for the Bay Area News group.

Monte Poole’s column on Blanda.

Jeff Faraudo’s story and interview with Blanda last month regarding his longevity.

A sampling of what people are saying about Blanda and his legacy.

A look back at the five-game run that made Blanda famous in 1970.

A MediaNews editorial which calls Blanda “one of a kind.”

A slide show tribute to Blanda.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3ng4yHw2xk&feature=PlayList&p=E565EF0DE2F587FA&playnext= Raider75

    I think Jerry is a cynical sportswriter. He is not a FAN like you and me.

    We expect the Raiders to win and hope against all odds.

    Jerry looks at the evidence and makes a rational judgment of the team based on what he sees.

  • guest123

    We all need a fresh batch of kool aid. Drink up!

  • hwnrdr

    guest123 Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 6:39 am
    We all need a fresh batch of kool aid. Drink up!

    I think we need to SPKIE that Kool Aid! I think that is what is needed!

    Rockstar…just asking

  • ghosttothepost

    Hate break the news to you 75, but that’s a sports writer’s job — objectivity.

  • ghosttothepost

    Did you know that no matter how big a fan you are as a sports writer, cheering in the press box is prohibited.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3ng4yHw2xk&feature=PlayList&p=E565EF0DE2F587FA&playnext= Raider75

    # guest123 Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 6:39 am

    We all need a fresh batch of kool aid. Drink up!
    ……….

    Not enough kool aid in the world to wash down the bad taste left in my mouth after watching Janishanki’s kick go wide left Sunday.

  • ghosttothepost

    If Jerry once was an avid Raiders fan, and I get the feeling he was, he has done a good job of separating himself from that. As a sports writer, there is no room for being a fan. It’s a job, and you must approach it that way.

  • RaiderfanNY

    Sad news about Blanda, of course. Glad I got to see the end of his career with the Raiders.

    But now the Raiders’ GM — Al Davis — will spend the next few weeks thinking about the old days and remembering all his late friends instead of focusing on what’s wrong with his team TODAY. He loves living in the past (like many people in their 80s).

    What’s become obvious over the last three weeks is that we simply don’t have enough offensive talent to win. Our O line will be destroyed by good defensive fronts and our WR corps is simply non-competitive.

    Loper, a journeyman, may be our best lineman. We need two new tackles. If Veldheer and Campbell aren’t ready to go next year — and right now, it doesn’t look good — there is little hope here.

    How many times will Raiders QBs throw to DHB when he can’t get separation from any CB in the league? DHB has been the focal point of the passing offense so far and he doesn’t belong on the field. Murphy is the only legit WR on the team and he’s a number 2 guy who needs a dominant receiver on the other side.

    And, shoot, we probably still need a QB. I love Gradkowski’s moxie, but he was terribly inaccurate in the second half.

    We need 4 or 5 new starters on offense and we have no first-round pick next spring. And I’m not even thinking about the thus-far mediocre defense.

    The offensive scheme remains mystifying. One screen against the Cardinals? Hardly any passes to McFadden in the flat all season? Hardly any slants in front of the linebackers. Gradkowski is looking downfield first on every play, even though we don’t have the line to support a deep passing game. Why throw to DHB in the back of the end zone instead of throwing a short dart just over the goal line like Arizona threw to Fitzgerald for the winning score? Mystifying.

    Call me crazy, but I don’t see more than 2 or 3 offensive players on this roster who care capable of stepping up and helping the team win consistently.

    This week’s game is a must-win if the Raiders are to stay competitive this season. If we lose, we have to go 7-5 the rest of the way just to finish .500.

    But Big Al will surely spend today reminiscing about when Blanda was a Real Raiduh.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3ng4yHw2xk&feature=PlayList&p=E565EF0DE2F587FA&playnext= Raider75

    # ghosttothepost Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Hate break the news to you 75, but that’s a sports writer’s job — objectivity.
    …….

    Don’t have to break it to me. I’m not mad at him.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3ng4yHw2xk&feature=PlayList&p=E565EF0DE2F587FA&playnext= Raider75

    I was only answering the question in #47

  • ghosttothepost

    NY — a lot of of spot on, even if depressing, points in your post. The Raiders are light years away from moving into the NFL elite.

  • guest123

    Jerry does his job well in being neutral to hometown bias. But he does seem to easily distance himself from the blogger fans when we lose. He kind of throws out postgame loss posts that encourage us to vent at Al Davis and Cable. When we win, it’s also a guarded optimisim style. He seems to be saying, “don’t go getting your hopes up”.

    I wish that Jerry would allow himself to be a Raider fan, if only to commiserate with the rest of us. If only for a few minutes and let the hurt of a close loss sink in and fester a bit.

    It hurts to lose. Physically hurts the body. Can’t sleep till one am dwelling on it. I internalize the pain, and smile at my wife and kids and don’t take it out on them. But my head still hurts afterward, and beer just dulls the pain a bit. Losing sucks.

    I’d like to think that Jerry has as much emotionally invested as we do. Even if it breaks protocol for a brief moment.

  • ghosttothepost

    Al is old. Old people, who have had success, tend to live in the past. Al lives there. That’s when he was young, vibrant and the Raiders ruled. I’m sure it’s hard for him not to live there in his mind. So, in some respects, I give him a pass. But God he’s made a mess of the Raiders.

  • ghosttothepost

    Guest, I understand what you are saying. But if Jerry did that, he would comprising his integrity. Sports writer sounds great doesn’t it? But remember, you work every weekend, most night, wages are low and you perform mostly a thankless job. And trust me, it’s not that easy.

  • ghosttothepost

    I think NY brings up a good point about the Raiders defense … supposedly the strength of the team, it has been mediocre — at best — so far.
    The Raiders are 26th in total defense, and, once again, hapless against the run — 29th in rushing defense.
    Same old, same old.

  • ghosttothepost

    did everybody else leave?

  • hwnrdr

    Coming in to this week…Jano is going to try and channel his inner Blanda! Is he going to play QB too?

  • ghosttothepost

    those stats were bad … i was looking at 2009

    scratch last post … the raiders are actually 2nd in total defense through 3 games … well above average, I’d say

  • ghosttothepost

    but the run defense is still porous … 24th in league compared to second against the pass

  • RaiderRockstar

    Jerry Mac is a Raiders fan, but he’s also a realist.

    he calls it like he sees it and he tells it how it is.

    I like that. I don’t like it when people talk in circles or sugar coat everything. it builds false hope & security and makes the let down even worse when the Raiders crash n burn on Sundays

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3ng4yHw2xk&feature=PlayList&p=E565EF0DE2F587FA&playnext= Raider75

    I agree Ghost. I have seen little change in the run defense, 3rd down defense, or any other CB besides Nnamdi.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3ng4yHw2xk&feature=PlayList&p=E565EF0DE2F587FA&playnext= Raider75

    # ghosttothepost Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 7:09 am

    those stats were bad … i was looking at 2009

    scratch last post … the raiders are actually 2nd in total defense through 3 games … well above average, I’d say
    ………..

    Stats are an illusion. Raiders have played 2 of the worst Offenses in the league. Against the only mediocre offense, the Titans, the raiders were blew out by halftime.

  • http://blackhillsphoto.com/sturgis-weddings/black-hills-weddings.jpg Dakota

    Generally Marshall’s run defense is in the bottom 1/3. What else do you expect? Garbage in, garbage out.

    Generally, Tom Cable loses games. Garbage in, garbage out. Of the 77 games Cable has coached in his lifetime, he has lost 56 of them. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that means he LOSES 72.72727% of his games.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3ng4yHw2xk&feature=PlayList&p=E565EF0DE2F587FA&playnext= Raider75

    Raiders should have held Cards to 14 or below easily.

  • ghosttothepost

    did you know the raiders have 2 INT and ZERO fumble recoveries in 3 games … Cincy has 4 and KC 3 fumble recoveries … causing turnovers is huge — the best teams always do it well

  • guest123

    More koolaid:

    DHB is being targeted on critical 4th down plays, and making clutch catches. He’s being held all game long, all season long so far. His stats don’t show it, but he is just as much a contributor as Louis Murphy.

    Murphy has been clutch, and Grads just seems to find him when it is most needed. Miller is coming to life as well.

    McFadden has been getting it done, behind a shaky patchwork line.

    I like our offensive playmakers. Our defense is good when we have all our pieces together. It’s always eiher Seymour is out or Henderson is out. If we could get Seymour/Henderson/TK all on the same field, and healthy, it’d make a world of difference.

    Our safety’s need to play better. Mike Mitchell, I am looking at you son.

    Our ST’s are horrific. Absolutely cost us the game against AZ.

    If we get marginal improvement from the defense, status quo on offense, and improve to average on defense, we can get on a roll this Sunday.

  • ghosttothepost

    Dakota … his record is abysmal … raiders fans deserve a real coach

  • RaiderRockstar

    The Raiders are 26th in total defense, and, once again, hapless against the run — 29th in rushing defense

    ***

    JFB: thoughts ???

    Redskins lost to the Rams last week and the Bears are 3-0!

    Gradkowski didn’t even pass for 300 yards or 2 TD’s against the lowly Cards

    McFadden is a beast

    have you been right about anything man?

    well, you did beat me in fantasy football last week … i’ll give you that

  • http://blackhillsphoto.com/sturgis-weddings/black-hills-weddings.jpg Dakota

    72.72727% loser! And an admitted wife beater too!

  • RaiderRockstar

    Generally Marshall’s run defense is in the bottom 1/3. What else do you expect? Garbage in, garbage out.

    Generally, Tom Cable loses games. Garbage in, garbage out. Of the 77 games Cable has coached in his lifetime, he has lost 56 of them. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that means he LOSES 72.72727% of his games.

    ***

    do you have a man crush on Hue Jackson or something?

    post his losing record as an OC too please!

  • RaiderRockstar

    Raiders should have held Cards to 14 or below easily

    ***

    the Raiders are supposed to have the best secondary in the league and Derek Anderson threw 2 TD’s on us … with Larry Fitz & Steve Breaston both banged up and Early Doucet OUT

  • ghosttothepost

    and how many years in a row do we have to suck at special teams … NUMBER 1 reason we lost to Cards — 102 yard KO return and three missed FGS …

  • ghosttothepost

    the great raiders team always had great special teams play … i remember when the raiders used to block punts and recover fumbles on kicks and punts on a regular basis … you never see either anymore

  • RaiderRockstar

    Guest123: I have been saying this for a LONG time man

    fix the lines = fix the Raiders

    Tom Cable thinks he can make more with less on the o-line and the Raiders only nose tackle (John Henderson) is banged up. and he backed up Tommy friggin Kelly in WK1

    Seymour & Kelly have a similar skill set. both penetrators, neither is a dominant force against the run inside – probably why McClain looks so average thus far, even against bad teams

  • RaiderRockstar

    time for a meeting – be back later gents!

  • http://blackhillsphoto.com/sturgis-weddings/black-hills-weddings.jpg Dakota

    Hue Jackson

    2003 OC Washington (Spurrier HC, Patrick Ramsey and Tim Hasselback QBs)
    21st Passing
    23rd Rushing

    2007 OC Atlanta (Bobby Petrino HC, Byron Leftwich and Joey Harrington QBs)
    18th Passing
    26th Rushing

  • http://blackhillsphoto.com/sturgis-weddings/black-hills-weddings.jpg Dakota

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 7:22 am
    Raiders should have held Cards to 14 or below easily

    ***

    the Raiders are supposed to have the best secondary in the league and Derek Anderson threw 2 TD’s on us … with Larry Fitz & Steve Breaston both banged up and Early Doucet OUT
    _________________

    LMAO, the only time our secondary looks like the best in the league is when teams just run it down our throats. It is Nnamdi and a bunch of scrubs out there.

  • hwnrdr

    Come on Dakota…Yaba Daba Doo!
    Well, maybe after Grey Goose and Red Bulls…
    i think that Cable is starting to show his emotions on the sideline! Maybe he can channel his inner wife beater and whoop on some of his players!

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    I can’t wait till Cable is fired. Only one more week till the ax comes down. Unless the Raiders miraculously beat the Texans, there is no way he survives. Bring on the Hue Jackson era!

  • http://blackhillsphoto.com/sturgis-weddings/black-hills-weddings.jpg Dakota

    Hey, I guess Cable just needs to win 35 straight games to become a .500 head coach!

  • bcz24

    2 short td’s against our very weak zone coverage. Who says we have the best secondary in the league though? I would say it would be a toss up between buffalo and cincy for that distinction, maybe the jests with a healthy revis and crow playing well. Stan Routt CJ and Branch are all more liability than all-pro.

  • ghosttothepost

    C’mon guys … I think Cable is a tool, too … but, check previous post … Bill Walsh could not win with this team … avg QBs, young WRs, crappy O line … poor special teams … porous run defense … heck, God would have trouble winning with this team

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III
  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    Ghosttothepost Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 7:41 am
    C’mon guys … I think Cable is a tool, too … but, check previous post … Bill Walsh could not win with this team … avg QBs, young WRs, crappy O line … poor special teams … porous run defense … heck, God would have trouble winning with this team
    ————————–
    Cable is a scrub, a puppet, a loser, and a wife beater.

  • ghosttothepost

    it takes talent to win in the NFL … I know, da Bears and Chefs are both 3-0 without much talent … but they will come back to the pack … everything has gone there way so far … the Raiders never have everything go there way … it’s called the curse of Al

  • bcz24

    We have a good chance to beat the Texans. Andre Johnson said his high ankle sprain has become more of an issue than he predicted… If he is out, or even limited, then we can focus heavily on stopping Foster. Our run D has improved (rank 23rd in the NFL, Jacksonville is ranked 29th for those of you named RaiderRockstar keeping track of such things). We are the number 1 team in football at moving the ball into the opposing red zone, if we can start to capitalize on those opportunities then we should start winning these games we should be winning.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Trade DMAC for Bill Walsh!

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    The curse of Al? LOL The curse of Al is that he is old, meddling, and sleazy, and has no business running an NFL franchise anymore.

  • guest123

    I love Hue’s gutsy call with no timeouts and running McFadden in from the 2 yard line just before the half. Made Cable look like less of a moron as they went in up 20-17.

  • ghosttothepost

    luck plays a role in wins and losses … Seabass missed a 32-yard gimmee to lose against Cards … 98 out of 100 he nails that … that’s just bad luck that his miss — and they all miss once in a while — came up there … if he makes it, and he’ll probably makes the rest of those all season, we’re 2-1 and all the conversation in here is different … but how different would it be really? … we’re not ready for prime time, and maybe not for a long time