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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM JOE UNITAS
UNITAS WE STAND is the story of my father’s pursuit of his childhood dream to be a professional football player; it is a very special project of love and admiration. My father’s journey was fraught with obstacles and family struggles and through hard work and determination; he became the most unlikely, but arguably best quarterback to play in the National Football League.
During my dad’s later years, he was often asked to approve a story about his life. His response was always the same: “Who would want to see that movie?” Not long after his death in 2002, my mother was approached by numerous screenwriters and producers seeking the rights to make a movie about her husband’s life. We are a close family and we each weighed the positives of sharing the universal truths of my dad’s journey - but always with great reservations. What professional screenwriter could possibly capture the spirit of John Unitas, rather than the cliché of the “Golden Arm”? It was decided that only someone who lived and grew up with the man - only his son – and I made a promise to my mother that I would write the script myself.
Prior to the release in 2006 of JOHNNY U: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOHNNY UNITAS, the author, Tom Callahan, graciously provided me with the manuscript. After reading the manuscript, I could see the film of Dad’s formative years playing before my eyes in Tom’s skillfully written story. After securing the rights to the book, I focused on writing the screenplay that would reveal the child, the adolescent with a dream, and the young man who faced the obstacles of a struggling athlete. The world may know the professional competitor but few know the story of my father’s early life.
I had 28 years with my dad and I believed I knew the essence of the man. The past 6 years of developing the screenplay deepened my insight, and my loss. His ambition, determination, and courage never wavered. That same drive is Dad’s legacy to me.
“Who would want to see to go see that movie?” I am willing to bet that if Dad knew his son was the writer, he would focus that same drive on filling the theatres to see the movie his son made.