JOHNNY UNITAS Biography - Famous Sports men and women


Biography » famous sports men and women » johnny unitas


Name: Johnny Unitas                                                               
Born: May 7, 1933 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania                                         
Died: September 11, 2002 Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland                           
John Constantine "Johnny" Unitas (May 7, 1933 – September 11, 2002), nicknamed   
The Golden Arm and often called Johnny U, was a professional American football     
player in the 1950s through the 1970s. He was a record-setting quarterback and     
the National Football League's most valuable player in 1959, 1964 and 1967. His   
record of throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games (between 1956-1960)   
is unsurpassed. He is widely considered the greatest quaterback in NFL history.   
Unitas was married by his uncle to his high school sweetheart Dorothy Hoelle on   
November 20, 1954; they had five children. One hour after he divorced Dorothy in   
Reno on June 26, 1972, Unitas married Sandra Lemon; they had three children and   
stayed together until his death.                                                   
On September 11, 2002, Unitas died suddenly of a myocardial infarction (heart     
attack) while working out at a physical therapy facility in Lutherville-Timonium, 
Maryland. After his death, many fans of the Baltimore Ravens football team         
petitioned the renaming of the Ravens' home stadium (owned by the State of         
Maryland) after Unitas. These requests, however, were unsuccessful since the       
lucrative naming rights had already been leased by the Ravens to the Buffalo,     
New York, based company, M&T Bank. However, a statue of Unitas was erected as     
the centerpiece of the plaza in front of the Stadium and the plaza was             
officially named "Unitas Plaza". Large banners depicting Unitas in his Baltimore   
Colts heyday now flank the entrance to the stadium. Many loyal Baltimore           
football fans observe the ritual of rubbing the shoe of the statue of Unitas       
prior to entering the stadium for Baltimore Ravens home games. Towson University, 
in Towson, Maryland, just north of Baltimore, named its football and lacrosse     
complex in honor of Unitas after his death in 2002. He was a major fund-raiser     
for the university, which his children attended.                                   
Toward the end of his life, Unitas brought media attention to the many permanent   
physical disabilities that he and his fellow players suffered during the early     
years of football, before padding and other safety features designed to prevent   
such injuries had been invented. Unitas himself lost almost total use of his       
right hand, which had become mangled by the end of his playing career, with the   
middle finger and thumb noticeably disfigured from being repeatedly broken.       
He is buried at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium, Maryland.             
The gravesite of Johnny Unitas, Timonium, Maryland.