Legendary Baltimore Colts quarterback John Constantine Unitas Glance (1933–2002) was born on this day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father died when he was five and his mother who raised him.
"She never got discouraged and taught us the same way," he said of her courage and determination.
As tough as the steel town he grew up in, the hard-nosed, crewcut "Johnny U" was a ninth-round draft choice and joined the Colts in 1956. With a career that spanned 18 years, Unitas led his team to three championships and the Super Bowl V win.
Colt tightend John Mackey said of Unitas, "It's like being in a huddle with God."
Wearing his trademark black hightop shoes, Unitas was one of the first to call his own plays. The tough competitor read his opponents and instinctively knew what plays to run. With grace under pressure, he threw at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games.
"Anything I do," he said, "I always have a reason for."
An inspirational leader, his play helped define the sport's early days. He was voted "the Greatest Player in the First 50 Years of Pro Football" in 1969. His golden arm completed 2,830 of 5,186 passes for 40,239 yards.
"John could drop one in on you from 50 yards on the fly," Green Bay linebacker Dave Robinson said.
Unitas was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979 and once said: "Conceit is bragging about yourself. Being confident means you believe you can get the job done, but you know you can't get your job done unless you also have the confidence that the other guys are going to get their jobs done too. Without them, I'm nothing."
Skill pays off.