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.