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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Your tributes to Johnny Unitas
Johnny Unitas
Johnny Unitas, regarded as the NFL's best-ever quarterback, dies of a heart attack at the age of 69.

E-mail your tributes to an NFL legend.

This debate is now closed.

The "Golden Arm" broke nearly every NFL passing record and won three championships with the Baltimore Colts in an 18-year career.

He was the first to throw for 40,000 yards in his career and now ranks seventh, surpassed by a group of quarterbacks who played in an era when the rules made passing easier.

Unitas retired after the 1973 season holding 22 records, including most passes attempted and completed and most touchdown passes.

Send your tributes and memories of Unitas' glorious career.


I was 11-years-old when I first saw him play - I am now 55. He was brilliant as a strategist, and tough as a river dock street fighter. The modern steroid loaded players on artificial turf couldn't hold a candle to him.
Tony Borrelli, USA

This is my all-time favourite Johnny quote, after he was asked why he risked passes during the drive against the Giants in 1958 that led to the overtime victory: "When you know what you are doing, you are not intercepted."

That was Johnny in a nutshell. Others may have had more championships, but no one had his drive, determination, or grit. Rest in peace, Johnny!
Paul Turner, Baltimore, Maryland, USA


I was fortunate enough to have met him in person once when I was a kid
Rick Kulacki Jr., Baltimore, MD, USA

He was a team leader and winner back when the game wasn't filled with overpaid moaners who often don't 'feel' like playing!
John, USA

Even though I am too young to have seen Johnny play, I admired him for his grit and work ethic on the field. The talents he showed on the field however, pale in comparison to what he did off the field.

He was humble, gracious, and whenever someone would say they were honoured to meet him, he would correct them by saying HE was honoured to have met THEM.

I was fortunate enough to have met him in person once when I was a kid, and I still remember him saying the biggest thrill he got was to put a smile on someone's face, because that is what he felt he was here on earth to do.

Godspeed Johnny U, your passing marks the end of an era and all of Baltimore mourns your loss, but celebrates in your wonderful memories.
Rick Kulacki Jr., Baltimore, MD, USA

Johnny helped make the NFL what it is today.
Jamie, UK

I was never able to see Unitas play, but watching old film of him he embodies the greatest qualities of two of the best I have seen - Joe Montana and Steve Young, take the mind of Montana and the strength of Young and double it and you're getting close... he was the greatest quarter-back the game has ever seen.
Scott, Scotland


On the playground in school, little children pretended to be him
Galen Tackett, USA

Unitas had grit, humilty, brains. His whole way of playing reminds me of why today's pro sportsmen seem so hollow. To grieve his death is also to grieve for a way of playing that is receding.
Chris Roberts, UK

As a child I grew up near Baltimore and every year my family would travel to Westminster where the Colts would practice for the upcoming season. One of my fondest memories was when I asked for his autograph (which I still have) after the scrimage and he gladly posed for a picture with me. One of my earliest heroes...I will miss him...
Mark Rissmiller, USA

When you see film of Unitas running 17 plays inside of two minutes in an age where QBs had to manage their own games, you get a sense of how great he was. He was masterful - one of those players you wish was in his prime today just so you could see some of that magic.
Daid Williams, Canada

I was too young to be watching football during Johnny Unitas' heyday, but even so I remember hearing him praised by others back then. On the playground in school, little children pretended to be him even though ignorant of just who he was or what he did.


If players of ANY sport at the top level decided to base their careers on that of Unitas, then we'd have a lot fewer big-headed 'stars' about
Alex Thorpe, England

Years later, as I was first beginning to enjoy football, I read about many of his records in the Guiness book and felt sorry that I'd never seen him play. I was living in the San Francisco area when Joe Montana became everyone's football hero. Yet even with all my admiration for Joe, I still knew who had earlier set and continued to hold the standard of greatness as a football player and a quarterback.

In the shadow of 9/11 sport seems a trifling thing; but perhaps the real sports heroes like Unitas really did show us something truly valuable in the human spirit which has relevance in today's darker world: Ordinary men and women, together giving their very best for each other and for us, can overcome daunting obstacles and reach goals seemingly beyond the reach of the best of us.
Galen Tackett, USA

Thank you for your thoughtful obituary on Johnny U. I haven't been interested in football since I was a kid, but back then he was God to me. I still remember watching the Giants game on TV as one of the most electric entertainment experiences of my life.
Robert Solot, Mexico

When it came to desperation plays, Unitas was the most exciting QB I ever saw. He and Ray Berry were a legendary combination. Long live Johnny U and the Baltimore Colts!
Bob Darby, USA

If players of ANY sport at the top level decided to base their careers on that of Unitas, then we'd have a lot fewer big-headed 'stars' about, and instead we'd have genuine sporting heroes for the next generation to look up to.

I still have the tiny number 19 jersey I wore to the Colts games when I was too young to revel in his greatness. A city mourns your loss, Johnny U.
Martyn, Baltimore, USA


Think of all the modern day NFL quarterbacks and none of them are half the team leader that Unitas was
Simon Jarvis, England

He was the greatest QB to ever play the game, and no one ever hope to match his record of 47 consecutive games with a TD pass. Unitas was a pioneer of gridiron football. His 1958 NFL title drive (in the first-ever playoff game to enter sudden death overtime) put the NFL on the map.

I wasn't even born when he was playing, but I still respect what he did for the game. Fans of American football all over the world owe respect to this man. Without him, the NFL would still be the number 2 sports league in America behind baseball. Rest in peace, Mr Unitas, from a fan of the modern game you helped to shape.
Markus Liles, USA

I had the privilege of growing up in Baltimore and seeing the Colts play. Johnny U, as we called him, always gave the Colts a good chance to win. No matter what the score, everyone knew that with Unitas in the game, the outcome would only be settled at the final play of the final quarter.

This was a man who loved what he did for a living, yet was humble to his fellow man as to never think of himself as someone of greatness.
Bruce Speranzella, USA

Think of all the modern day NFL quarterbacks and none of them are half the team leader that Unitas was. What an awesome quarterback he was.
Simon Jarvis, England

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