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Johnny Unitas, Football Hall-of-Famer

His nickname was "Golden Arm", and he went on to have a golden career.

Johnny Unitas, considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time, hit the field as a Cardinal at the University of Louisville before leaving the nest for the National Football League.

Unitas played football at UofL from 1951 to 1954.

He finished his college career completing 247 of 502 passes for 2,912 yards and 27 touchdowns, but the majority of his school records have been surpassed by succeeding quarterbacks.

Starting in 1956, Johnny U played 18 years in the NFL, mostly as the Baltimore Colts’ #19 (the team which later became the Indianapolis Colts). He was a Super Bowl champ, league MVP, and football Hall-of-Famer.

Johnny Unitas died September 11, 2002.

On September 22, 2009, Peyton Manning earned his 119th career victory, breaking the Colts' franchise record for a quarterback, which he had shared with Unitas. However, no player has come close to Johnny U’s league record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass – a 47-game streak.

As one of UofL’s best-known graduates, the university has honored Johnny Unitas in several ways. His collegiate uniform - number 16 - was retired – the first and only at UofL to be so. He was also inducted into the College of Arts & Sciences Hall of Honor, and a campus dormitory bears his name.

In addition, the Johnny Unitas Football Museum stands at the training facility of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, where a statue of the legendary quarterback overlooks the field.

Additional info on this icon in American sports:

  • For more on Unitas’ record, check out his Hall of Fame stats. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
  • John Constantine Unitas played in the NFL’s first overtime championship game, leading the Colts to victory over the New York Giants.
  • Johnny Unitas was the NFL’s MVP in 1959, 1964 and 1967.
  • He retired in 1973, after playing one season with the San Diego Chargers.
  • Besides his amazing career achievements, Johnny Unitas is remembered through his Golden Arm Educational Foundation, which rewards student athletes for their accomplishements.
  • Unitas appeared in the 1999 football film "Any Given Sunday" and played himself in a 1995 episode of “The Simpsons”. In 2000, he starred in a TV movie about himself, simply titled Unitas. Addtional roles and appearances can be found at Internet Movie Database (IMDB).

More on Johnny Unitas can be found at his official website.

Program 407
"Louisville Life" stops by Rainbow Blossom Natural Food Market's new Highlands store and explores other ways Louisvillians are going green. Plus, Et Cetera looks back at football legend Johnny Unitas and his time in Louisville. (#407)