About Johnny Unitas
Johnny U was born May 7th, 1933 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His football career began at St. Justin’s high school. Unitas started out as a halfback, but eventually replaced the starting quarterback after he was injured. As a kid, Unitas had his eyes set on a professional football career. After completing high school, Johnny U was passed over by Indiana and Notre Dame. Fortunately, Louisville took a chance and gave him a scholarship.
It took five games into his freshman season for Johnny Unitas to get in a game, but once he did Louisville knew they had something special. In his first career start, Unitas completed 12/19 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns. The team finished the year 5-5 and 4-1 with Johnny Unitas taking snaps. The next season, Louisville decided to de-emphasize sports and give athletes a stricter academic standards. 15 players lost their scholarships. Unitas stayed on the team, but his responsibilities grew heavily. He was forced to play both sides of the ball and even return kickoffs and punts.
Unitas’ NFL Career
Johnny Unitas was selected in the 9th round of the 1955 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. His time on the Steelers was short lived since head coach Walt Kiesling decided Unitas wasn’t smart enough to play quarterback. After his release, Unitas worked in construction to support his family in Pittsburgh. Fast forward to 1956 when Johnny Unitas attended a Baltimore Colts tryout. Unitas impressed the Colts enough to land a spot on the roster. Johnny U, or the Golden Arm as people called him, went on to win one Super Bowl, 2 NFL Championships, and 3 NFL MVPs. In addition to that, he was selected to the Pro Bowl 10 times, the All-Pro team 6 times, the NFL 1960s All-Decade team, and won the NFL Man of the Year award in 1970.
Unitas After Football
Following his playing career, Unitas continued living in Baltimore. In 1984, Robert Irsay decided to move the Colts to Indianapolis. The move infuriated Johnny U to the point where he asked the NFL Hall of Fame to remove his display unless it belonged to the Baltimore Colts. The Hall of Fame never granted Unitas his request. Johnny U’s final years were plagued by injuries he suffered during his playing career. An elbow injury left him unable to use his right hand and golf was the only activity his knees could handle. On September 11th, 2002, Unitas passed away suddenly due to a heart attack.