Number six on the NFL Network’s “Top 100” is Johnny Unitas. Unitas was the quarterback every kid wanted to be back in the late 1950s. I have to admit I was shocked to find Unitas had died in 2002.
Unitas was drafted out of Louisville, surprisingly, in the ninth round as the 102nd pick in 1955. At that time, professional football was not a widely followed sport. However, Unitas’ win the 1958 Championship game, bringing the Baltimore Colts to an overtime victory over the New York Giants, sprung the NFL into the vision of the American sports fan. I watched the game as a 9-year-old boy. It is now called “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”
Johnny Unitas, or “Johnny U,” as we called him, brought the Colts back to tie the score and ultimately win in overtime on a fullback run by Alan Amache. I can still see it. The final score was Baltimore 23, New York 17.
It was snowing in Peoria, Illinois, on that day and I went outside and took my football and handed it off to myself and scored the winning touchdown over and over.
Unitas played for 19 seasons and played in 211 games. He passed for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns. He threw touchdowns in 47 straight games; this record still stands. Unitas brought class to the game. On the field, he was an amazing leader, and his knowledge of the game was unsurpassed. As the NFL Network’s resource says, “Unitas’ leadership and poise are what really make him one of the all-time greats.”
As a testament to his greatness, despite the fact that he started his career over 50 years ago, Unitas still obtained a fan vote of 14. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.
It is hard to believe that Unitas was cut by the Steelers in 1955. It is even harder to believe that he is gone.
Number five on the NFL “Top 100” countdown is Walter Payton. I have written that I believe Payton deserves to be Number One. In that report, I relayed his statistics, so it seems rather silly to re-write that same article. Rather, I have linked to it, and hopefully you will take the time to go there and read it.
Walter Payton and Johnny Unitas were players who represented class.
NFL Network Website, “Johnny Unitas QB”
Hall of Fame Website, “Johnny Unitas”
You Tube Website, “NFL Top 100 Players #6-Johnny Unitas”
Associated Content Website, Gary Davis, NFL Network’s “Top 100:” Walter Payton Should Be Number One; Here’s Why”
You Tube Website, “#5-Walter Payton (NFL Top 100 Players)”