John Constantine Unitas was an American professional football player who was a quarterback in the National Football League for 18 seasons, primarily with the Baltimore Colts.
56 Facts About Johnny Unitas
Johnny Unitas set many NFL records and was named Most Valuable Player three times in 1959,1964, and 1967, in addition to receiving 10 Pro Bowl and five first-team All-Pro honors.
Johnny Unitas helped lead the Colts to four championship titles; three in the pre-merger era in 1958,1959, and 1968, and one in the Super Bowl era in Super Bowl V His first championship victory is regarded as one of the league's greatest games and credited with helping popularize the NFL.
Johnny Unitas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
John Constantine Unitas was born in Pittsburgh in 1933 to Francis J Unitas and Helen Superfisky, both of Lithuanian descent; he grew up in the Mount Washington neighborhood in a Roman Catholic upbringing.
When Johnny Unitas was five years old, his father died of cardiovascular renal disease complicated by pneumonia, leaving the young boy to be raised by his mother, who worked two jobs to support the family.
Johnny Unitas's surname was a result of a phonetic transliteration of a common Lithuanian last name Jonaitis.
Johnny Unitas completed 46 of 99 passes for 602 yards and nine touchdowns.
Johnny Unitas maintained his by taking on a new elective: square dancing.
Johnny Unitas completed 16 of 21 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns.
Johnny Unitas completed 106 of 198 passes for 1,540 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Johnny Unitas completed 9 out of 19 passes for 73 yards, rushed 9 times for 52 yards, returned six kickoffs for 85 yards, one punt for three yards, and had 86 percent of the team's tackles.
The only touchdown the team scored was in the fourth quarter when Johnny Unitas made a fake pitch to the running back and ran the ball 23 yards for a touchdown.
Johnny Unitas was hurt later in the fourth quarter while trying to run the ball.
Johnny Unitas completed 49 of 95 passes for 470 yards and three touchdowns.
Johnny Unitas was elected captain for the 1954 season, but due to an early injury did not see much playing time.
Johnny Unitas's first start was the third game of the season, against Florida State.
Johnny Unitas was slowed by so many injuries his senior year his 527 passing yards ended second to Jim Houser's 560.
Steelers' head coach Walt Kiesling had made up his mind about Johnny Unitas; he thought he was not smart enough to quarterback an NFL team, and he was not given any snaps in practice with the Steelers.
In 1956, Johnny Unitas joined the Baltimore Colts of the NFL under legendary coach Weeb Ewbank, after being asked at the last minute to join Bloomfield Rams lineman Jim Deglau, a Croatian steelworker with a life much like Johnny Unitas, at the latter's scheduled Colts tryout.
Johnny Unitas threw nine touchdown passes that year, including one in the season finale that started his record 47-game streak.
At season's end, Johnny Unitas received the Jim Thorpe Trophy as the NFL's Most Valuable Player by the Newspaper Enterprise Association.
Johnny Unitas continued his prowess in 1958 passing for 2,007 yards and 19 touchdowns as the Colts won the Western Conference title.
In 1959, Johnny Unitas was named the NFL's MVP by the Associated Press for the first time, as well as United Press International's player of the year, after leading the NFL in passing yards, touchdown passes, and completions.
Johnny Unitas was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player by the AP and UPI for a second time.
Johnny Unitas resumed his torrid passing in 1965, throwing for 2,530 yards, 23 touchdowns and finishing with a league-high and career-best 97.1 passer rating.
In winning his third MVP award from the AP and UPI in 1967, Johnny Unitas had a league-high 58.5 completion percentage and passed for 3,428 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Johnny Unitas openly complained about having tennis elbow and he threw eight interceptions and only three touchdown passes in the final five games.
Johnny Unitas wrote in his autobiography that he felt his arm was initially injured by the use of the "night ball" that the NFL was testing for better TV visibility during night games.
Johnny Unitas would spend most of the season sitting on the bench.
Johnny Unitas's insertion was a desperation move in an attempt to retrieve dominance of the NFL over the upstart AFL.
Johnny Unitas helped put together the Colts' only score, a touchdown late in the game.
Johnny Unitas threw for 390 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in AFC playoff victories over the Cincinnati Bengals and the Oakland Raiders.
In 1971, Johnny Unitas split playing time with Morrall, throwing only three touchdown passes.
Johnny Unitas came onto the field, and threw two passes, one of which was a long touchdown to wide receiver Eddie Hinton which would be his last pass as a Colt.
Johnny Unitas was traded from the Colts to the San Diego Chargers on January 20,1973, in a transaction that originally had future considerations returning to Baltimore.
Eager to sever all ties with the Colts, Johnny Unitas signed a new two-year contract with the Chargers on June 8,1973.
Johnny Unitas succeeded John Hadl who had requested and was granted a trade to the Rams.
Johnny Unitas threw for just 55 yards and 3 interceptions, and was sacked 8 times.
Johnny Unitas was then replaced by rookie quarterback, future Hall of Famer Dan Fouts.
Johnny Unitas finished his 18 NFL seasons with 2,830 completions in 5,186 attempts for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns, with 253 interceptions.
Johnny Unitas was the first quarterback to throw for more than 40,000 yards, despite playing during an era when NFL teams played shorter seasons of 12 or 14 games and prior to modern passing-friendly rules implemented in 1978.
Johnny Unitas's 47-game consecutive touchdown streak between 1956 and 1960 was a record considered by many to be unbreakable.
Johnny Unitas was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
Johnny Unitas asked the Pro Football Hall of Fame on numerous occasions to remove his display unless it was listed as belonging to the Baltimore Colts.
Johnny Unitas donated his Colts memorabilia to the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore; they are now on display in the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards.
Johnny Unitas was inducted into the American Football Association's Semi Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
Johnny Unitas actively lobbied for another NFL team to come to Baltimore.
Johnny Unitas was often seen on the 30-yard line on the Ravens side.
Johnny Unitas lived most of the final years of his life severely hobbled.
At the age of 21 on November 20,1954, Johnny Unitas married his high school sweetheart Dorothy Hoelle; they lived in Towson and had five children before divorcing.
Toward the end of his life, Johnny Unitas brought media attention to the many permanent physical disabilities that he and his fellow players suffered during their careers before heavy padding and other safety features became popular.
Johnny Unitas himself lost almost total use of his right hand, with the middle finger and thumb noticeably disfigured from being repeatedly broken during games.
On September 11,2002, Johnny Unitas died from a heart attack while working out at the Kernan Physical Therapy Center in Baltimore.
Johnny Unitas's funeral was held at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore, Maryland.
Johnny Unitas is buried at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium, Maryland.