Johnny Unitas

QB

“Johnny U”

Johnny Unitas

18 seasons
10 Pro Bowls
6 All-NFL
40,239 passing yards
290 touchdown passes
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18

seasons

10

Pro Bowls

6

All-NFL

40,239

passing yards

290

touchdown passes
View full stats

"I came into the league without any fuss. I’d just as soon leave it that way. There’s no difference I can see in retiring from pro football, or quitting a job at the Pennsy Railroad. I did something I wanted to do and went as far as I could go.”

Read Johnny Unitas' Bio

(Louisville)...6'1'', 194...John Constantine Unitas ... Cut by 1955 Steelers, free agent with 1956 Colts, soon became legendary hero ... Exceptional field leader, thrived on pressure ... Led Colts to 1958, 1959 NFL crowns, Super Bowl V victory ... All-NFL six seasons, Player of Year three times ... MVP three times in 10 Pro Bowls ... Completed 2,830 passes for 40,239 yards, 290 TDs ...Threw at least one TD pass in 47 straight games ... Had 26 games over 300 yards passing ... Born May 7, 1933, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ... Died September 11, 2002, at age of 69.

BIO

Johnny Unitas Baltimore Colts & San Diego Chargers

"I came into the league without any fuss. I’d just as soon leave it that way. There’s no difference I can see in retiring from pro football, or quitting a job at the Pennsy Railroad. I did something I wanted to do and went as far as I could go.”

Few, if any, sports stories are more dramatic or more complete than the story of Johnny Unitas. A ninth-round draft choice of the1955 Pittsburgh Steelers, Unitas was cut before he even threw one pass in a game. Still determined, he played semi-pro football for $6 a game.

After the season, the Baltimore Colts coach Weeb Ewbank learned of the "outstanding prospect" on the Pittsburgh sandlots. Ewbank signed Johnny for $17,000 on a make the team basis. Programmed strictly as a backup, Unitas got his chance in the fourth game when the Colts’ starter was injured.

Unitas’ first pass was intercepted for a touchdown but from that moment on, he never looked back. For the next 18 seasons, "Johnny U'' ran up a ledger of game winning exploits seldom matched in NFL history.

Without a doubt, it was his last-second heroics in the 1958 NFL title game, often called "the greatest game ever played," that turned Unitas into a household name. The New York Giants, with two minutes to play, were leading, 17-14, when the Colts started a last-gasp drive at their own 14. “Mr. Clutch” went coolly to work with seven straight passes that set up a game-tying field goal with seven seconds left. Unitas then engineered a textbook perfect 80-yard march to win the game in overtime. The game, played before a national television audience, gave Unitas his chance to demonstrate all of his marvelous attributes – confidence, courage, leadership, play calling genius, and passing skill.

Unitas’ career statistics include 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns passing. His record of at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games stood for more than 50 years. A genuine team player, Unitas was a first- or second-team All-NFL choice eight years, selected NFL Player of the Year three times, and named to10 Pro Bowls.

STATS

Johnny Unitas's Stats

Year Team
G
Att
Comp
Pct
Yds
TD
Int
Rating
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
1956 Baltimore
12
198
110
55.6
1498
9
10
74.0
28
155
5.5
1
1957 Baltimore
12
301
172
57.1
2550
24
17
88.0
42
171
4.1
1
1958 Baltimore
10
263
136
51.7
2007
19
7
90.0
33
139
4.2
3
1959 Baltimore
12
367
193
52.6
2899
32
14
92.0
29
145
5.0
2
1960 Baltimore
12
378
190
50.3
3099
25
24
73.7
36
195
5.4
0
1961 Baltimore
14
420
229
54.5
2990
16
24
66.1
54
190
3.5
2
1962 Baltimore
14
389
222
57.1
2967
23
23
76.5
50
137
2.7
0
1963 Baltimore
14
410
237
57.8
3481
20
12
89.7
47
224
4.8
0
1964 Baltimore
14
305
158
51.8
2824
19
6
96.4
37
162
4.4
2
1965 Baltimore
11
282
164
58.2
2530
23
12
97.4
17
68
4.0
1
1966 Baltimore
14
348
195
56.0
2748
22
24
74.0
20
44
2.2
1
1967 Baltimore
14
436
255
58.5
3428
20
16
83.6
22
89
4.0
0
1968 Baltimore
5
32
11
34.4
139
2
4
30.1
3
-1
-0.3
0
1969 Baltimore
13
327
178
54.4
2342
12
20
64.0
11
23
2.1
0
1970 Baltimore
14
321
166
51.7
2213
14
18
65.1
9
16
1.8
0
1971 Baltimore
13
176
92
52.3
942
3
9
52.3
9
5
0.6
0
1972 Baltimore
8
157
88
56.1
1111
4
6
70.8
3
15
5.0
0
1973 San Diego
5
76
34
44.7
471
3
7
40.0
0
0
0.0
0
Career Total
211
5186
2830
54.6
40239
290
253
78.2
450
1777
3.9
13
 
Additional Statistics: Receiving: 1-1



CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES

Johnny Unitas's Championship Games

Championship Games

1958 NFL – Baltimore 23, New York Giants 17 (Overtime)
Unitas Started at quarterback. He completed 26 of 40 passes for 361 yards one touchdown and one interception.

1959 NFL – Baltimore 31, New York Giants 16
Unitas started at quarterback. He completed 18 of 29 passes for 265 yards and threw two touchdown passes. He also scored a rushing touchdown on a four yard run.

1964 NFL – Cleveland 27, Baltimore 0
Unitas started at quarterback. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 95 yards and had two passes intercepted. He also ran the ball six times for 30 yards.

1968 NFL – Baltimore 34, Cleveland 0
Unitas was injured and did not play.

1970 AFC – Baltimore 27, Oakland 17
Unitas started at quarterback. He completed 11 of 30 passes for 245 yards and threw one touchdown pass. He also had two rushes for nine yards.

Super Bowls

Super Bowl III – New York Jets 16, Baltimore 7
Unitas did not start but entered the game at quarterback in the fourth quarter. He completed 11 of 24 passes for 110 yards and had one pass intercepted.

Super Bowl V – Baltimore 16, Dallas 13
Unitas started at quarterback but was injured and relieved in the second quarter. He completed three of nine passes for 88 yards. He threw one touchdown pass, a 75-yard completion to John Mackey, and two interceptions.



CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Johnny Unitas's Career Highlights

 

All-NFL: 1957 (NEA), 1958(AP, UPI, NEA, NY), 1959 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY),  1964 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY), 1965 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY),1967 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY)

 

 

 

All-NFL Second Team: 1957 (AP, UPI, NY), 1960 (UPI, NEA, NY), 1963 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY)

 

 

All Western Conference: 1958 (SN), 1959 (SN), 1960 (SN), 1964 (SN), 1965 (SN), 1967 (SN)

All AFC Second Team: 1970 (UPI)

(10) – 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968

(at time of his retirement following 1973 season)
 

• [1st] Most Passes Attempted, Career – 5,186
• [1st] Most Passes Completed, Career – 2,830
• [1st] Most Yards Gained, Career – 40,239
• [1st] Most Games 300 or More Yards, Career – 26
• [1st] Most Touchdown Passes, Career – 290
• [1st] Most Consecutive Game Touchdown Pass Thrown – 47 (1957-1960)
• [1st] Most Fumbles, Career - 95
• [Tied for 1st] Most Seasons Leading the League, Touchdown Passes – 4 (1957-1960)
• [2nd] Most Passes Had Intercepted, Career – 253
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Fumbles Recovered, Career – 29
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Own Fumbles Recovered, Career – 29
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Seasons, Active – 18
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Seasons 3,000 or More Yards Passing, Career – 3 (1960,1963,1967)
• [Tied for 3rd] Highest Pass Completion Percentage, Game (20 Att) – 85.00 (vs. Atlanta, Nov. 12,1967)

Super Bowl Records
• [1st] Longest Pass Completion – 75t (vs. Dallas, Super Bowl V)

NFC Championship Game Records
• [1st] Highest Pass Completion Percentage, Career (40 att) – 62.9 (3 games, 89-56)
• [1st] Most Passing Yards, Game – 349 (vs. New York Giants, 1958 NFL Championship Game)
• [2nd] Most Passes Completed, Game – 26 (vs. New York Giants, 1958 NFL Championship Game)

Colts' records held by Unitas
(Records through the 1972 season, Unitas's last season with Baltimore)

• [1st] Most Passing Yards, Game – 401 (vs. Atlanta, Sept. 17, 1967)
• [1st] Most Passing Yards, Season – 3,481 (1963)
• [1st] Most Passing Yards, Career – 39,768
• [1st] Most Games, 300 or More Yards Passing, Career – 27
• [1st] Most Pass Completions, Game – 26 (vs. New York Jets, Sept. 24 1972)
• [1st] Most Pass Completions, Season – 255 (1967)
• [1st] Most Pass Completions, Career – 2,796
• [1st] Most Consecutive Passes Completed – 12 (vs. New York Jets, Sept. 24 1972)
• [1st] Most Pass Attempts, Game – 45 (vs. New York Jets, Sept. 24 1972)
• [1st] Most Pass Attempts, Season – 436 (1967)
• [1st] Most Pass Attempts, Career – 5,110
• [1st] Highest Pass Completion Percentage, Game – 85.0 (vs. Atlanta, Nov. 12,1967)
• [1st] Highest Pass Completion Percentage, Season – 58.5 (1967)
• [1st] Highest Pass Completion Percentage, Career – 54.7
• [1st] Most Touchdown Passes, Season – 32 (1959)
• [1st] Most Touchdown Passes, Career – 287
• [1st] Most Consecutive Games Touchdown Pass Thrown – 47 (1956-1960)
• [1st] Longest Pass Completion – 89t (vs. Los Angeles Rams, Oct. 30, 1966)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Passes had Intercepted, Game – 5 (vs. San Francisco, Nov. 27, 1960; vs. Green Bay, Oct. 8, 1961; vs. Detroit, Nov. 20, 1966)
• [1st] Most Passes had Intercepted, Season – 24 (1960, 1962, 1966)
• [1st] Most Passes had Intercepted, Career – 246

League Statistical Championships
Passing Touchdown Titles: 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960

 

 

Team Statistical Championships
Passing Titles: 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971

 

 

• 1959 Most Valuable Player (UPI, SN, MX)
• 1964 Most Valuable Player (UPI, AP, SN, MX)
• 1967 Most Valuable Player (UPI, AP, NEA, SN, MX)
• 1970 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year
• 50th Anniversary Team
• 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
• 1960s All-Decade Team
• All-Time NFL Team
• AFL-NFL 1960-1984 All-Star Team

Year Team W L T Division Finish
1956 Baltimore Colts 5 7 0 (4th)
1957 Baltimore Colts 7 5 0 (3rd)
1958 Baltimore Colts 9 3 0 (1st)
1959 Baltimore Colts 9 3 0 (1st)
1960 Baltimore Colts 6 6 0 (4th)
1961 Baltimore Colts 8 6 0 (3rd)
1962 Baltimore Colts 7 7 0 (4th)
1963 Baltimore Colts 8 6 0 (3rd)
1964 Baltimore Colts 12 2 0 (1st)
1965 Baltimore Colts 10 3 1 (2nd)
1966 Baltimore Colts 9 5 0 (2nd)
1967 Baltimore Colts 11 1 2 (2nd)
1968 Baltimore Colts 13 1 0 (1st)
1969 Baltimore Colts 8 5 1 (2nd)
1970 Baltimore Colts 11 2 1 (1st)
1971 Baltimore Colts 10 4 0 (2nd)
1972 Baltimore Colts 5 9 0 (3rd)
1973 San Diego Chargers 2 11 1 (4th)

CAREER CAPSULE

Johnny Unitas's Career Capsule

Full Name: John Constantine Unitas

Birthdate: May 7, 1933

Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

High School: St. Justin’s (Pittsburgh, PA)

Died: September 11, 2002 in Timonium, Maryland

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 20, 1979

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 28, 1979

Presenter: Frank Gitschier, Unitas’s QB coach at Louisville

Other Members of the Class of 1979: Dick Butkus, Yale Lary, Ron Mix

Pro Career: 18 Seasons, 211 Games

Drafted: 9th round (102nd player overall) in 1955 by Pittsburgh Steelers

Transactions: January 22, 1973 - Unitas purchased by San Diego Chargers from the Baltimore Colts.

Uniform Number: #19



ENSHRINEMENT SPEECH

Johnny Unitas Enshrinement speech

Johnny Unitas Enshrinement Speech 1979

Presenter: Frank Gitschier

This is a very great moment in my life, the life of my family and we are most grateful and appreciative of being here and being part of these induction ceremonies. Now I want to talk about Johnny Unitas, my man. No one here is more totaling aware of the talents given to him by God, than Johnny Unitas. And when you use those talents to the utmost, the bottom line is dedication, desire, discipline, sacrifice, and when you put all that together it spells John Unitas, extraordinary in the field of leadership and it spells John Unitas a man respected by all who have known him.

But let's talk about some of the talents that is more apparent to most of us because John has entertained us over the years. The thing that amazes me than anything else is the man's ability to stand in that pocket with all that violence and mayhem going on about him. Some of which was to be inflicted upon him and he stood back there and ate his lunch before he threw that ball. His courage is unquestionable. Now let's digress a moment back to that what is now called the greatest football game in the history of professional football. The game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. To say the least, those calls where not only unpredictable or totally unbelievable when you assess the downs and the yardage situations at that time. The man has always done his homework and he knew the strengths and weakness that a defensive person should know. He had no pier as a reader of defense. It is impossible for me to go any further in these ceremonies and not make the flat-out statement that if John Unitas is not the greatest quarterback that played professional football-there can't be anybody any greater.

Now I must say, most importantly the man has always had his priorities in the right order. Let me say this to you, can you imagine how many famous people, great people this man has meant in his lifetime. And he selected an average college football player an average college football coach, an average recruiter, as a matter of fact a nobody to be his presenter. That tells you something about Johnny Unitas. From all his coaches in high school, in college with the Bloomfield Rams, and all of professional football and I want to include John's high school coach Max Carey who is deceased and Mr. Carroll Rosenbloom. This is the greatest moment of my life and I want to thank you John Constantine Unitas.

Johnny Unitas

They must be drinking over there. Thank you very very much Frank, it's a real privilege for me to be here. And I want to thank you specially Frank for taking the time out along with your wife Mary and your boys to come here to Canton to enshrine me. I appreciate it. It was a difficult decision to make, but when I boiled it down, it was the only decision to make and I thought that the time whenever you put force with me in college to come back to Tennessee when you were earning your Master’s degree and work with me on weekends to try to push some sense in the stubborn Ukrainian head of mine that I appreciate it and I hope and I know you appreciate coming here and I thank you for that. Let's not forget there's a gentleman who is ill in Baltimore who is a good friend of mine who is in the hospital and couldn't make it, Mr. Joe Foley, hello and wish him a speedy recovery.

You know a man never gets to this station of life without being helped, aided, shoved, pushed into doing something the proper way as the other enshrinees mentioned and thanks to the families so also, I have to do this. My mother who was always behind me, pushing, shoving, moving, getting me to do things. Trying to make me speak, really, she always used to say getting a word out of me was like pulling teeth, it probably was because I don't very often say a whole lot. My family, of course, my wife and kids. I thank all of them for being here, for being behind me and I know my wife is the most critical of whatever you do, but she always does it in love, so she says. I appreciate that. Of course, my brother Leonard who is here from Orlando and his wife, my sister Millie and her husband and my sister Shirley and her husband and boys who have come down from Pittsburgh, I appreciate that, and I appreciate them being here. Also, all the blue and white outfits out there from the Colts. These are Baltimore fans, there as a lot of players who played in Baltimore during the time I played, know what I am talking about. Coming into Baltimore stadium was coming into an outside insane asylum. For these fans were always 100 percent behind us and I hope they get 100 percent behind the new regime to try and help aid them in getting them to the Super Bowl so we can put more Baltimore Colts in this Hall of Fame.

I won't take up a whole lot of your time, there is going to be a fine football game this afternoon and it is getting a little warm, but there are two other people that I wished could have been here. Frank talked about one of them, James Max Carey, but his son is here with his two sons and I thank them for coming down. Max Carey Was it great influence on me when I worked in high school as a football player period he worked with me, talked with me, treated me like a son. I can always remember Max saying, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going and that is what I expect out of you 110 percent at all times. then there was a newspaperman with my first football game in Baltimore, a little funny little fat guy with a beard, sitting down here by the name of Cameron Snyder, who came over to me and you I was nervous and said John, I just want you to remember this, that the game you are playing today is a kids game played by men, go out a do a job, and I thank you for that Cameron.

It is hard to remember everyone, very difficult because as I said a lot of people touch your life as you are growing up, in small ways possibly some are larger than others. You know just by a word, a congratulatory word or say gee, thanks for the entertainment you have given us over the years, all these are great things to remember and I will remember them. I will remember this day and I honestly want to be honest with you that the players I played with over the years, the coach that I had, the Sandusky'! that the players, the Nutters, the Eagers, the Braces, Marchettis, and Fellingtons, Ewbanks, Shulas, all my coaches McCaffertys, they are directly responsible for my being here and I want you all to know that, because I have never forgotten that. I want to thank you very, very much for your attention and the kind words and may God Bless All of You.