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Profile of Johnny Unitas

Johnny Unitas in 1967

John Constantine Unitas was an American sports star notable in the field of football. He was a quarterback who played for eighteen seasons at theNational Football League. As well as that, Unitas also had set records and was named as the Most Valuable Player three times in the years 1959, 1964, and in 1967. Aside from that, Unitas had also received five first-team All-Pro honors, alongside his honors in ten Pro Bowl.

In the years 1958, 1959, and 1968, Unitas also lead the Colts achieved four championship titles alongside the three pre-Super Bowl titles. Johnny Unitas’ first championship victory was then regarded as one of the greatest games that popularized the National Football League. Moreover, between the years 1956 and 1960, he set a record for having the most consecutive games with a touchdown pass.

Consequently, he was nicknamed ‘The Golden Arm’ or ‘Johnny U.’ He was also considered as the prototype of the modern era marquee quarterback. Afterward, in 1979, Unitas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Johnny Unitas in his later years

Johnny Unitas was born on May 7, 1933, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the son of the Lithuanian descent, Francis Unitas and Helen Superfisky. Earlier in his career, Unitas had a dream of being part of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football.  However, when he tried, coach Frank Leahy said that Unitas was too skinny to be put in the field. Following that, Unitas then attend the University of St. Louisville. In there, he was in the football team of Louisville Cardinal. He had played for the team in about four years and had achieved 3 139 yards, 245 passes, and 27 touchdowns.

By the 1952 season, the university had reduced the amount of athletic aid and tightened the academic standards for athletes. As a result, about fifteen players had lost their scholarships. Unitas maintained his scholarship by taking another elective, the square dancing. Also, in that year, coach Frank Camp switched the team to two-way football. During that time, Unitas played as the linebacker on defense and the quarterback on offense. The Cardinals won their first game against Murray State, which had followed losses against Tennessee and Eastern Kentucky. In the 1954 season, Unitas was the elected Captain, although he was not much seen in games because of an injury. Despite the team’s losses in the previous years, they had recovered and won the game against the Morehead State.

After his college, Unitas continued his football career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, before the season had begun, the Steelers had released him, stating that he was not smart enough to play as the quarterback in an NFL team. Subsequently, in 1956, the Baltimore Colts had signed him up, under coach WeebEwbank. That time, Unitas had made his debut against the football team, Chicago Bears. Their victory against the Chicago Bears was also followed by their winning against the Cleveland Browns. Nevertheless, they had suffered a 58-27 loss against the Green Bay Packers.Following that, in 1957, Unitas had started as a full-time starter quarterback in the Colts. He had finished a passing yard of 2 550, twenty-four touchdown passes, and had helped the Colts to achieved the 7-5 winning record. At the end of the season, Unitas had received the Jim Thorpe Trophy as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

In 1958, Unitas had continued his career with the Colts. During that time, he had nineteen touchdowns. Also, it is under his leadership that their team had won the NFL championship in December 1958, against the New York Giants. That time, the match against the Colts and Giants was the first overtime game in the NFL history. It was then dubbed as ‘the greatest game ever played’ and was televised by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).Furthermore, in the 1960s seasons, Unitas had continued his career being the achiever of several MVP honors. However, in 1968’s preseason, Unitas suffered from an injury. He was hit by a member of the Dallas defense, resulting in a torn muscle in his arms. With this, he had spent most of the season sitting on the bench.

After his years in football, Unitas and his family settled in Baltimore. It was also then that he continued his career in broadcasting and doing commentary for NFL games in the 1970s. Following that, in 1987, Unitas was inducted into the American Football Association Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In September 2002, while he was working out at the Kernan Physical Therapy Center, Unitas died from a heart attack. After his death, about 54 934 people had signed an online petition that urged the Baltimore Ravens to rename the Raven’s home stadium after Johnny Unitas. However, this petition was unsuccessful because the naming rights were already leased by the Ravens to the M&T Bank.

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