Tag Archives: most games played NFL

Matthews, Bruce

Cards: Action Packed 1990, Topps 1988, SkyBox 1993
Acquired: In Person 1991, 1994. TTM, 2009. Houston Oilers Training Camp, Texans Blitz

One of the greatest linemen to play the game, Bruce Matthews is one of the most decorated linemen in NFL history. At 6’6″, 289 he is the perfect blend of speed and power to play the guard position. In fact over his career Matthews would play every position along the line, being named to the Pro Bowl at both center (5 times) and guard  (9 times), playing in more games than any other player (outside of kicker and punter) with 296 games in three different decades.  Named All Pro 9 times and selected to the NFL All Decade team of the 1990s, Matthews was originally a 1st round choice out of USC by the Houston Oilers. He, along with Mike Munchak would form the best guard combo perhaps in league history allowing the team to soar to new offensive heights, blocking primarily for the Oilers during the Warren Moon and Steve McNair eras.  Matthews resented the move of the team from Houston to Tennessee due to the roots he had planted in the city, but played there through 2001 before retiring.  He was named to the Hall of Fame in 2007 during his first year of eligiblity.

Bruce has remained fairly close to the sport since retiring. Ironically he had not suffered any notable injuries through out his long career- but has had knee problems since colliding with children while standing on the sidelines of one of his children’s pee wee games. He worked for the Houston Texans through the 2010 season but was hired to coach the offensive line for Mike Munchak in Tennessee beginning in 2011.

Action Packed made some nice cards, and with their second run in 1990, had great photos and a simple gold frame and an embossed card. It stands in contrast to the Topps submission, with an inglorious sideline shot of Matthews. This SkyBox 1993 Impact was a nice idea, but the Impact logo is just too big on the card. It also takes away from Bruce’s moving figure and his name in that pastel Oiler Hawaiian blue. The moving figure effect was probably created by a motion blur in the background, and is primitive yet effective.

The first time I met Bruce Matthews was back in 1988 or 1989. Josh and I didn’t have cards at the time and were outside waiting for the players. As Josh walked up to the door an player ran him over. Josh stumbled to his feet and it was none other than Bruce Matthews who clobbered him by accident. He apologized and gave us a hearty laugh and went back inside. Good times.

Blanda, George (1927-2010)

Card: Topps 1972
Acquired: TTM 2010, c/o home
Sent: 3/26  Received: 4/13  (18 days)

This card was the oldest card in my collection (for a time) ironically because my friend Josh brought over his card collection and accidentally spilled them all over the floor. He let me have this card, because he thought it was in such bad condition that it was trash.  Being the big Oiler fan I am, I knew about George’s history with the team, but it never seemed to cross my mind to locate him for an autograph and for many years the card languished in my collection.  I started a TTM drive to get autographs of many of the classic Oilers after watching the NFL Network presentation of “Full Color Football”. (While the broadcast gives the AFL some credit, it still failed to give the Oilers teams credit of the early 60s, Charlie Hennigan any exposure, and does not acknowledge the contributions of many of our now injured and fallen gladiators in dire need of medical attention and pension assistance.) George was at the top of the list.

George Blanda is an amazing story of longevity in sports history. In a sport like football, with players average playing time of less than 5 years, Blanda would play in 4 different decades, spanning 26 seasons, longer than any other player in football history. He began playing for the NFL in 1949 for the Bears, where he’d play for 10 seasons. Forced with an ultimatum to become a kicker full time and not a quarterback, he opted to retire; However fate would smile upon “The Grand Old Man” who was granted a reprieve when the upstart AFL started in 1960. Signed by the Houston Oilers, he led them to the first 3 championships, winning the first and second with an impressive aerial attack. After seven seasons, he’d move on to play with the Raiders, where he served as backup quarterback and kicker for the team for an additional nine seasons. Blanda at the time of his retirement held the record for most games played and most points scored. He was inducted into the Pro Football HOF in 1981.

G 340   Att 4007   Comp 1911    Avg 47.6    Yds 26920
Td 236    Int 277
FG 335    Att 641   XPA 943    XPM 959    Pts 2002

UPDATE -George Blanda passed away quietly at the age of 84 on September 27th, 2010.  He is survived by his wife and 11 children.