Johnny Unitas 2002 Deaths

Johnny Unitas

Age: 69

record-setting quarterback of the Baltimore Colts, whose black, high-top cleats and dark crew cut will forever be symbols of the franchise's success in the late 1950's and 1960's; revered by teammates for his instinctive play-calling and fearless leadership; led Colts to NFL titles in 1958 and 1959, the former a 23-17 overtime victory over the Giants often called the greatest NFL game ever; threw at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games, still a league record; first quarterback to pass for 40,000 in a career; his 290 TD passes are sixth-most in NFL history; selected in the ninth round in 1955 by his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers; he was dropped before playing a single down and was relegated to playing semi-pro football for $6 a game before being signed by the Colts in 1956; completed 2,830 of 5,186 passes for 40,239 yards during his 18-year career; three-time league MVP; 10-time Pro Bowl selection; retired in 1973 after one season in San Diego; voted the league's best quarterback as part of the NFL's 50th anniversary festivities in 1969 and maintained the same distinction when a new team was assembled in 2000; inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979; sustained injuries during his career that would later claim both his knees and partially debilitate his right arm; had triple bypass surgery in 1993. He died of a heart attack while working out in a physical therapy center.

Died: Towson, Md., Sept. 11

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