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  • Lance Mannion
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Kate Marie

Johnny U. is just slightly before my time, Lance, but I remember my dad and uncle calling him the "greatest ever." I'll be rooting for the Colts, too. They've been the team I've followed -- when I've followed at all -- more than any other since the Rams abandoned Los Angeles. And I like Peyton Manning, too.


"I didn't believe that sports heroes aged any more than superheroes did."

That's so funny... Grizzled and I were discussing Unitas on Sunday during the game and I said when I was a girl, all football players (all sports players for that matter)looked 55 to me. They all looked rocky and old to me back then. I also used to assume that every single gal on her own in those 60's movies was at least 35... Looking at the photo of Unitas though on that book cover... he was a baby! He still had a rocky-edge to him, but looks nothing like what I remember.

Mike Schilling

Johnny Unitas, of eastern European descent, born and played high school ball in Pittsburgh.
Joe Montana, of Italian descent, born and played high school ball just outside of Pittsburgh.
Dan Marino, of Italian and eastern European descent, born and played high school ball in Pittsburgh.


Mike, don't forget Joe Namath of Beaver Falls, PA.


Lance wrote: >>>>>Then in short order, the Colts lost the Super Bowl to the New York Jets, the NFL absorbed the AFL and the Colts were moved to the AFC, Unitas retired, and my heart broke<<<<<

Yeah, well, that's tough Lance. Real tough. You want to know about getting your heart broke? I was an 8 year kid, a fanatic Giants fan, sitting by the radio listening to that game in 58. And my heart would have been broken there and then. Had it not been broken already by the announcement in the Fall of the same year, that my beloved Dodgers were moving to LA. Now THAT is heartbreak! So that is two in one year, Lance. Within months of each other.

Kevin Wolf

Matt had a very good post about Manning.

Johnny U! I was a little too young, I think, and not much of a sports fan, but certain names just hit me. Willie Mays, say. And Johnny Unitas. To me, as a kid, he seemed the quintessential football player. (Wolcott has already commented favorably re the book.)

harry near indy

good post, lance.

and thank you for your support of the colts in the super bowl. as you folks can tell by my name, i'll be cheering for the colts on feb. 4.

Lees Hardy

I'm old enough to remember the two great games the Colts and Giants played in 1958 and 1959. Unitas was fantastic. And the Colts were a great hometown team. In Diner, about and filmed in Baltimore, one of the guys makes his fiance take a Colts test before he will marry her. Just lately, Jess Kornbluth at Head Butler reviewed the Unitas biography. It and this post bring back fine memories, ones the disgusting midnight move obliterated.


I remmeber the Browns beating the Colts in the last pre-Super Bowl playoff. Still Johnny U was regarded as a "great" by serious Browns fans. Unfortunately, the Colts remain a team that ran away Indianapolis, of all places! It's a wonderful place for basketball, but otherwise not a major league city (I lived in Bloomington, and made many trips to Indy). The reincarnated Browns make more sense as a football team than the "Indianpolis" Colts. Heck, even the Ravens left their hometown in daylight. Da Bears are a real team with a real history and I'm with them all the way....

Exiled in New Jersey

While we are saying good things about Johnny U., how about a hosanna for Jim Brown, the most dominant player of all time. He was like the Timex watch, he'd take a licking and keep on ticking, 1000 plus yards every year when they only played 12 games, and he had to do it with Milt Plum at quarterback. The defense would know what was coming, yet he'd still be standing. I saw him destroy the Eagles too many times not to write this.

Y. A. Tittle

The Baltimore Colts were my favorite football team when I was a little kid and Johnny Unitas was my hero.

Damn, you're old.

Loved him. Perhaps because of free agency, my regionalism and fanaticism is only faint, now. I grew up in MA as a NYG fan first and a Pats fan second. But, Unitas was the first great QB I revered, along with Berry.

Along the way, I've really enjoyed Tarkenton, Fouts, Montana, Young, Simms and now, Manning. Simms doesn't really belong there, but hey, he's a Giant.

I have a niece who was in the Florida Gators marching band and to this day, she hates Manning. I love to tease her.

With the Pats playing Indy, I rooted for the Pats, but didn't at all mind them losing, because they lost to Manning. And did so because Manning stepped up and decided he wasn't going to carry the onus that plagued Tarkenton, Fouts and Marino.

I suspect he'll play defense, too, if necessary to win that ring.

He's fun to watch, isn't he? So was Unitas-to-Berry.

We're not that old, really.

Red Grange would make us old.


I, too, was a big Johnny U fan when I was a kid. Growing up in the Pittsburgh area, I felt a bond, an affinity toward him. He played on a cinder field, so did I. He worked in a steel mill during the off season, so did my grandpa. I bought a juvenile biography of Unitas from the SBS (Scholastic Book Service), where you could order books for 75 cents or a buck, and they'd deliver them to the school. I read it again and again until kit literally fell apart.

When he was a kid, he was playing with a bullet, which accidentally exploded and injured his finger, leaving it crooked. He thought it ended up helping him grip the ball. (I remember this information from 40+ years ago, btw.)

When I was about to go off to college (fresh from a year on the road while I was in the hippies) I went to a local doctor for a required physical. On his desk was brochure featuring a picture of Johnny U, not in Colt regalia, but in a suit. Reading upside down, I realized that Unitas was endorsing some right-wing cause. (NB: I was pretty radical back then, so his "right-wing cause" may have been nothing more than an endorsement of private ownership of property or something equally benign.)

So I wrote Johnny U off. I felt vindicated when the anti-establishment Joe Namath whipped Unitas and the Colts in SB III. I was living in Indianapolis when the Colts snuck into town, so I became a Colts fan, and my feelings toward Unitas mellowed. Because he was, after all, the best there ever was, bar none.

Matt T.

In college, I interned at a sports magazine for a semester. The magazine was solely devoted to University of Florida athletics, and as it was 1996, year of Steve Spurrier As God and Danny Wuerrfel As Jesus, plus a new men's basketball coach and some new SEC-elligible teams like rugby and women's soccer, it was a pretty good year. I started in the newspaper bidness in high school covering local sports, so it should've been my first step in that career. Instead, it's what got me out of writing about sports. I just didn't give a damn anymore.

Still, that year, I got to meet Peyton Manning. Being from Mississippi, he was a bit of a controversy. The home folks were sorely distressed when Archie's oldest chose the Vols over the Rebels. I still say Eli screwed himself over by playing for Ole Miss, who sucked that year, but I digress.

Anyhow, Peyton...he's a good kid. Good natured, laid back, easy going, has a good time, doesn't take himself too seriously. Wuerffel was always too much of a "golden boy", son of an Air Force chaplin and vocally "keeping himself pure for marriage". Peyton came across as just a good ol' boy who threw a ball pretty good. I don't have cable and can't tolerate bars since I quit drinkin', but I do enjoy the occasional game when I'm visitng my folks, and it's always nice to see Manning still seems to be a pretty good ol' boy these days and can still throw a ball.

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