Unitas, Johnny (yōnĪtˈəs) [key], 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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