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Quarterback – 6’1”, 194 lbs
Baltimore Colts: 1956-1972, San Diego Chargers: 1973
Hall of Fame: 1979
According to the official website for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, few - if any - sports stories are more dramatic or more complete than the story of Johnny Unitas. Many experts and fans alike simply say that Unitas was and still is the best of all time.
Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman wrote, “Johnny U had to do things the hard way. His receivers could get mugged downfield, the defensive linemen could head-slap their way into the backfield, and when they homed in on a quarterback, they could hit him any way they wanted to. None of today's cellophane-wrapper protection from the officials. And, Unitas got hit plenty. He'd snarl and wipe the blood off his face and lead his team down the field on still another of his great scoring drives.”
When asked who’s better, Unitas or Manning, ESPN’s John Clayton said, “My vote stays with Unitas. As great as Manning is, Unitas set the standards for the modern-day quarterback. He revolutionized the game; he went against tradition."
Here’s what the sport’s world has to say about Johnny Unitas:
“He invented the two-minute drill. He was the first of the great modern-day quarterbacks, and his performance set the standard for everyone who followed him at that position.”
-Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula
“Johnny Unitas will always be a legendary name in NFL history. One of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, he epitomized the position with his leadership skills and his ability to perform under pressure.”
-Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
“Without question, Johnny was the reason that football catapulted to the top of the professional sports world. He became a legend in the NFL.”
-Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts Owner and Chief Executive
“His presence in the history of the NFL is unmatched. Much of the success the NFL enjoys today can be found in the seeds Johnny planted in the late 1950’s and 60’s.”
-Former Baltimore Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick
“Johnny Unitas will always be special to me. Growing up, he was the football player I wanted to be and the idol of many quarterbacks.”
-Mike Homgren, Cleveland Browns General Manager
“Unfortunately, we didn’t give him a chance. We cut him and he was given a tryout with Baltimore, and then went on to be Player of the Decade and to a Hall of Fame career.”
-Dan Rooney, Pittsburgh Steelers Owner
“It’s hard to say who’s the best because so many things change as eras change. But he was the best.”
-Former Kansas City Chief Quarterback Len Dawson
"On December 28, 1958, I became a Colt fan and a John Unitas fan for life. Played quarterback on my high school football team for four years and proudly wore the number 19. I'll be the first in line to see this movie!"
-David Anspaugh, Director of "Hoosiers" and "Rudy"
•Super Bowl V Champion (1970) •Two-Time NFL World Champion (1958, 1959) •NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team •NFL 1960’s All-Decade Team •Ten-Time Pro Bowl Selection (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960,1961,1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967) •Six-Time First-Team All Pro Selection (1957, 1958, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1967) •Three-Time NFL MVP (1959,1964, 1967) •Three-Time Pro Bowl MVP (1959, 1960, 1963) •Three-Time Bert Bell Award (1959, 1964, 1967) •1970 NFL Man Of The Year •Pass Attempts – 5,186 •Pass Completions – 2,830 •Touchdowns – 290 •Passing Yards – 40,239 •Owned 11 NFL Records when he retired, second in 6 more •His streak of 47 consecutive games with at least one TD pass was recently broken by Drew Brees