Johnny Unitas

Johnny Unitas

Professional American football player
Date of Birth: 07.05.1933
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Johnny Unitas
  2. Early Life and College Career
  3. Professional Career
  4. Legacy and Death

Biography of Johnny Unitas

Johnny Unitas, a professional American football player, was active in the sport from the 1950s to the 1970s. He spent a majority of his career with the Baltimore Colts. Considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, he earned the nickname "The Golden Arm" but was often referred to simply as "Johnny U." He was named the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League in 1959, 1964, and 1967.

Johnny Unitas

Early Life and College Career

John Constantine "Johnny" Unitas was born on May 7, 1933, in a Lithuanian family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He grew up in the Brooklyn area and lost his father at the age of four. To support the family, his mother had to work two jobs. Unitas attended St. Justin High School, where he played football as a quarterback and halfback. During his four-year career with the Louisville Cardinals, Unitas recorded 245 completions for 3,139 yards and 27 touchdowns.

Johnny Unitas

At the University of Louisville, the 6'1" and nearly 145-pound athlete began his 1951 season with the fifth game against St. Bonaventure. Although his team lost 22-21, they found a new talented quarterback in Unitas. He finished his first year in college with 46 completions out of 99 attempts for 602 yards and nine touchdowns.

Johnny Unitas

By the 1952 season, the university began to de-emphasize sports. Its new president, Philip Davidson, not only raised academic standards for athletes but also reduced funding. As a result, some football players lost their scholarships and couldn't meet the new requirements.

Professional Career

After graduating from Louisville, Unitas was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the ninth round of the NFL draft. However, he was ultimately cut from the team when they had one more quarterback than available spots. Johnny got married, started a family, and left professional football to work in construction in Pittsburgh. However, he continued to play football on weekends, suiting up for the Bloomfield Rams and earning $6 per game.

In 1956, Unitas joined the Baltimore Colts in the NFL, with legendary coach Weeb Ewbank. A year later, he had his first full season, throwing 24 touchdown passes and amassing 2,550 passing yards, setting a franchise record. By the end of the season, he was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player by the NEA newspaper.

Leading his team, Unitas guided the Colts to victory in the 1958 NFL Championship, defeating the New York Giants 23-17 in a historic overtime game. This game was notable as the first-ever sudden death overtime game in NFL history, and it significantly increased the popularity of American football during the 1960s.

In the 1964 season, after a period of relative quiet, Unitas once again led the Colts to the top of the Western Conference. This season was one of his best, with Unitas throwing for 2,824 yards, 19 touchdown passes, and leading the league with an average of 9.26 yards per attempt. He was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player for the second time but disappointed his fans when the Colts lost to the Cleveland Browns 27-0 in the NFL Championship Game.

One of the most memorable moments in football history was Unitas' final game with the Colts, a 35-7 victory over the Buffalo Bills. In 1973, he was traded to the San Diego Chargers, and he retired from professional sports in 1974. Unitas concluded his 17 seasons in the NFL with 2,830 completions, 5,186 passes for 40,239 yards, and 290 touchdowns.

Legacy and Death

Johnny Unitas unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack on September 11, 2020. He left behind a lasting legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and a key figure in popularizing American football.