Unitas, Johnny(yo͞onīt`əs), 1933–2002, American football player, widely regarded as the greatest professional quarterback of all time; b. Pittsburgh. After playing for the Univ. of Louisville, Unitas was signed in 1955 by the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers but released before the season started, and subsequently played semiprofessional football before signing with the Baltimore Colts in 1956. By his retirement in 1974 (the last season with the San Diego Chargers) he held career records for attempted passes, completions, yards gained passing, touchdown passes, and other achievements. Although most marks were later eclipsed, he played in an era when the rules made passing more difficult. Noted for his ability to call plays from the line of scrimmage, Unitas was the Associated Press Player of the Decade (1960s), was the NFL's most valuable player in 1957, 1964, and 1967, and was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
See biography by L. Sahadi (2004).
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Unitas, (John Constantine) Johnny(1933– ) football player; born in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Pittsburgh Steelers cut the former University of Louisville quarterback in their 1955 training camp, but he signed with the Baltimore Colts in 1956 and led them to National Football League championships in 1958 and 1959. An exceptional leader and passer who thrived on pressure, he threw at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games. Often all-pro, he passed for 40,239 yards in 19 seasons.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.