Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas by Tom CallahanIn a time “when men played football for something less than a living and something more than money,” John Unitas was the ultimate quarterback. Rejected by Notre Dame, discarded by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he started on a Pennsylvania sandlot making six dollars a game and ended as the most commanding presence in the National Football League, calling the critical plays and completing the crucial passes at the moment his sport came of age.
Johnny U is the first authoritative biography of Unitas, based on hundreds of hours of interviews with teammates and opponents, coaches, family and friends. The depth of Tom Callahan’s research allows him to present something more than a biography, something approaching an oral history of a bygone sporting era. It was a time when players were paid a pittance and superstars painted houses and tiled floors in the off-season—when ex-soldiers and marines like Gino Marchetti, Art Donovan, and “Big Daddy” Lipscomb fell in behind a special field general in Baltimore. Few took more punishment than Unitas. His refusal to leave the field, even when savagely bloodied by opposing linemen, won his teammates’ respect. His insistence on taking the blame for others’ mistakes inspired their love. His encyclopedic football mind, in which he’d filed every play the Colts had ever run, was a wonder.
In the seminal championship game of 1958, when Unitas led the Colts over the Giants in the NFL’s first sudden-death overtime, Sundays changed. John didn’t. As one teammate said, “It was one of the best things about him.”
Unitas clan torn apart
I gnored and overlooked in his early years, Johnny Unitas went on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in football history. Unitas, whose passing ability earned him the nickname "the Golden Arm," led the winning team in what is widely regarded as the greatest game in the annals of professional football. His was in some ways a Horatio Alger story, but his heroism never stopped him from being human, and thus his career served as a reminder that even the greatest of gridiron giants is still just a man. On the day he died, September 11, , America was busy commemorating the terrorist attacks that had occurred exactly a year earlier, and thus Unitas, always known for his stoicism, passed quietly from the scene. Yet football had been changed forever because of him.
He spent the majority of his career playing for the Baltimore Colts. He was a record-setting quarterback , and the NFL's most valuable player in , , and For 52 years, he held the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass set between and , until broken in by Drew Brees. Unitas was the prototype of the modern era marquee quarterback, with a strong passing game, media fanfare, and widespread popularity. He has been consistently listed as one of the greatest NFL players of all time. Unitas and Helen Superfisky, both of Lithuanian descent; he grew up in the Mount Washington neighborhood. Attending St.
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But that name — and the money that can be made with it — is at the center of an ugly dispute that has torn his family apart. A legal battle pits John Unitas Jr. The dispute has resulted in a lawsuit that charges John Jr. I wish it could be resolved. It might be resolved this month, when the Maryland Court of Special Appeals is expected to decide who owns Unitas Management.
He was Unitas had a heart attack while working out at a physical therapy center in Timonium, Md. When he retired after the season after 18 years in the National Football League -- the first 17 with the Baltimore Colts -- Unitas had a big part of the record book to himself. He led the Colts to three N. He was the first quarterback to pass for more than 40, yards in a career. From to , he completed at least one touchdown pass in each of 47 consecutive games, still the record. He completed 2, of 5, passes for 40, yards and touchdowns, monumental figures for an era in which the rules did not benefit quarterbacks the way they do now.