Subtitle: Never forget what was and always hope for what can be--Victory in the last few seconds
The Last Eight Seconds
This article discusses the statistics and a powerful episode of two teammates (Warren Wells and George Blanda) who had overlapping careers during a five-year period which is the focus of the analysis.
Research shows that George Blanda is recognized for last-minute victories. A quote: “George Blanda played pro football for 26 seasons—longer than any other person. However, he’ll probably be remembered best for his 1970 season with the Oakland Raiders.
That year, in a five-game period, George provided Oakland with four wins and one tie with last-second touchdown passes or field goals—at age 43.”
One of those 1970 games was played at Shea Stadium in December 1970. I was at Shea Stadium witnessing the last minute, or better yet, last seconds turnaround on the football field.
Oakland was trailing the Jets in the last eight seconds of the fourth quarter and a 33-yard pass was successfully completed by Warren Wells to tie the score; and then the 43-year-old George Blanda made the kick to give Oakland the miraculous victory.
A New York Times article documented the feat of Wells. The article was titled, “Wells Hero in Final Reel of Oakland’s Late Show,” dated Dec. 7, 1970, and written by Joseph Durso. A photographer snapped a picture that still flashes in my mind.
The headlines hailed Wells as a hero in the last eight seconds, and it was a powerful moment which I will never forget.
Also, Daryl Lamonica said on the Oakland Raiders Web site:
Q: Is there one play that you can remember from your career?
Daryle Lamonica: I guess it would have to be a game against the New York Jets. We were behind by four points, and it was the last play of the game. I was throwing into the end zone to Warren Wells, the ball was in the air, the gun went off and Warren made a great catch in the end zone for a touchdown.
Most fans and sports writers remember the Heidi game, but the ending to the game on Dec. 6, 1970 surprised, stunned and jolted the emotions of thousands in Shea Stadium in 1970.
As I reflect on the fact that the probability is so small for me to have witnessed that game first-hand and then write about it 39 years later, I now realize how remarkable it was for me to ride the subway to Shea Stadium on a very cold wet day to experience an NFL game.
The New York Times' article contains the word "miracle," and looking back, I definitely call that catch by Warren Wells a victory that helps characterize the greatness of his career as an Oakland Raider wide receiver.