John Constantine “Johnny” Unitas (May 7, 1933 - September 11, 2002) (QB) was drafted in the ninth round of the 1955 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who immediately cut him due to an overabundance of quarterbacks in their system. In fact, the Steelers and other NFL teams felt that Unitas lacked the intelligence to run an offense in the NFL. Unitas signed with the Colts on a make-the-team basis as a back up and finally got an opportunity to play after starter George Shaw broke his leg in the fourth game of the 1956 season. The rest, as they say, is history! Johnny Unitas never willingly relinquished the quarterback position again for 17 more seasons. Teaming up with Hall of Famers Lenny Moore, Raymond Berry and Alan Ameche throughout the 1950s, Unitas and the Colts marched to two consecutive NFL League Championships in 1958 and 1959. After leading the league with 193 pass completions on 367 attempts for 2,899 passing yards and 32 touchdowns, Johnny earned his first of three NFL Most Valuable Player Awards. (He won the award twice more in 1964 and 1967.)
The 1958 NFL League Championship Game against the New York Giants was perhaps Unitas’ finest moment as he guided the Colts to a come-from-behind game-tying drive in the final minutes of regulation. The Colts won the game in the firt ever sudden death overtime victory in NFL postseason history as an estimated 45 million people watched the nationally televised broadcast of what is affectionately called the “greatest game ever played.” From 1957-1963, Johnny led the NFL in pass completions three times and four times in passing attempts, passing yards and touchdown passes. Johnny Unitas was named to ten NFL Pro Bowl appearances and was a six-time NFL All-Pro First Team selection. In 1970, he led the Colts back to the Promised Land as they captured Super Bowl V over the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13. In 1970, he was named the NFL Man of the Year. Unitas played 18-years for the Baltimore Colts (1956-1972) and the San Diego Chargers (1973). Johnny Unitas retired atop most offensive categories amassing 40,239 passing yards on 2,830 pass completions in 5,186 attempts. He threw for 290 touchdowns against 253 interceptions and scored a total of 78 points on 13 rushing touchdowns. Johnny Unitas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.