Unitas - Legendary Quarterback Dead at 69

09/11/2002

<a data-popupid=Johnny Unitas (Photo: Associated Press)" hspace="3" src="http://www.profootballhof.com/assets/story_image/Unitas_1.jpg" width="250" align="right" vspace="3" border="1" /> Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas passed away Wednesday at the age of 69.

"We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our longtime friend John Unitas," said Hall of Fame Executive Director John Bankert. "A true American sports icon, few if any will ever equal the positive impact he had on the sport of pro football. An inspiration on and off the field, John will be missed by all of us who had the privilege to know him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Unitas family."

Unitas starred for the Baltimore Colts from 1956 to 1972 and played one final season with the Chargers in 1973 when he became the first player in history to pass for 40,000 yards. In all, the three-time Player of the Year completed 2,830 passes for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns. He remains the Colts' all-time passing leader with 39,768 yards.

Originally cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955, Unitas signed with the Colts as a free agent in 1956. Two years later, he guided the Colts to a world title with a 23-17 overtime win over the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship Game. The following season, the Colts success continued as Baltimore captured its second straight league crown. Unitas and the Colts won a third championship with a victory in Super Bowl V.

An exceptional leader on the field, Unitas threw a touchdown pass in an incredible 47 consecutive games from 1956 to 1960, a record that has never been challenged. The Pittsburgh native earned All-NFL honor five times and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on January 20, 1979.

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