Remembrance and reverence for Johnny U.

LETTERS

September 15, 2002

Colts legend elevated a city to major leagues

I think what Johnny Unitas did was elevate a second-tier city like Baltimore to major-league status - not just in sports.

Johnny U. made that kind of difference on the psyche of a city. And he raised the expectations that a city has for itself, and, to its credit, Baltimore delivered.

Whenever the debate about quarterbacks and who was the best occurred, Baltimoreans could sit back and let the debate roll on and then end the debate just by saying "Johnny U." Game, set, match. Indisputable fact. And that fact instilled a real pride in this Baltimorean.

So that's a thank you to Johnny U. for increasing the self-esteem and the perceived and actual worth of an entire city just by doing his job.

Drew Carberry Chicago

Breakfast meeting a day to remember

I remember back in 1960 or 1961, Saint Patrick's Church would hold a fathers/sons communion breakfast on Mother's Day. I was just 10 or 11 at that time. As was the custom, a local sporting figure would be asked to give a talk. That year, Johnny Unitas was the guest speaker.

He not only gave the talk, he attended Mass, ate breakfast with the gathering and stayed until the end.

Along with our pastor and my father, we walked Mr. Unitas back to his car parked on Broadway. My father was a longshoreman and, of course, a Colts fan. I remember the pastor and my father talking with the legendary Johnny Unitas as if he were just another regular guy.

Me, I was speechless! He put his arm around me as we walked. I don't think my feet ever touched the ground on that trip to the car. I'll never forget that day.

May God bless Johnny Unitas and his family.

Patrick M. Wojciechowski White Hall

He made football all about Baltimore

What I remember whenever I saw or talked about John Unitas is my grandfathers.

They were both hard working, blue-collar Baltimoreans who loved the Colts. I'm sure neither would have cared much for today's flashiness and grandstanding and would no doubt comment on how Johnny U. would do his job, perform his miracle, and get off the field.

Johnny Unitas did more than people know in making sure that football in this town wasn't about the Colts or the Ravens, but about Baltimore.

Not only did he bridge generations of football fans, he himself was a bridge to fond memories about my late grandfathers.

When John died, it made me think of them again, and for that I am grateful. Many people will remember John for his football accomplishments. I'll remember him for what he did for me, a man he never met.

David Hughes Dundalk

Innovator, gambler reinvented position

Johnny U. literally reinvented his position.

He created the two-minute drill, including the spiked ball to stop the clock. He developed the timed pass thrown to a spot on the field where the receiver would be at a pre-determined number of seconds from the snap of the ball.

And together with Ray Berry, he developed the pass thrown out of bounds that Berry would grab with his body, legs, and arms fully extended - reaching nearly horizontally out of bounds while he dragged his feet barely in play to make the catch that Unitas had thrown deliberately toward the bench.

Not the most physically endowed, but he was impossible to unnerve and fellow opponents would swear he had ice water in his veins.

Unitas was a true innovator and gambler, and the NFL owes much of its success today to those early days of TV when Unitas worked his magic.

Hats off to you, sir - Mr. John Unitas.

Ron Cucina Nottingham

Talent, persona helped Colt rise above crowd

My father was a big Colts fan. Needless to say, that made him a big Johnny Unitas fan.

Born in 1969, I never had a chance to see the great Unitas play. But I knew what he meant to my dad, this city and to the sport of football.

When I began going to the Colts games in 1976, I heard the whispers in Section 8 Upper. "Unitas would have got it in there" or "Unitas wouldn't have thrown that interception."

I heard it enough to know how good he was without ever seeing him play.

It's not always the game that makes you a fan. Sometimes it's just the man playing whose talent and persona rise above all others.

Dwayne Showalter Jarrettsville

No. 19 was inspiration in touch football games

The passing of Johnny U. brought back 40-year-old memories of touch football games on Laurel Drive as fresh as yesterday: "Down and out." "Down, out, and long." "Go Long." "Stop and go." "Buttonhook." "Three completes for a first down."

Thank you, Mr. Unitas, for giving us something to aspire to. We were all No. 19.

David Feigelson Memphis, Tenn.

A man with `dignity, humility and grace'

"Time will not dim the glory of his deeds."

It is impossible to compare athletes of one era to another since they do not play on the same fields, but their characters do play in the same arena as chronicled in the media.

With John Unitas, we got greatness with dignity, humility and grace.

Dave Reich Perry Hall

Regardless of era, QB was incomparable

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