Is Michael Vick a HOF?

Is Michael Vick a HOF?

Is Michael Vick a HOF?

Yes Vick is a Hall of Famer and it’s really based on one specific point; you can’t tell the story of football history without mentioning his name; and trust me we’re not talking about a footnote. Michael Vick was a phenomenon on the field. No one had ever seen such athletic ability from the quarterback position. This was more than an Otto Graham, a Doug Flutie, Steve Young or even a Randall Cunningham. Vick had a sick juke equipped with tremendous vision and a great sense of pressure. Posting a sub 4.2 40 yard dash time doesn’t hurt either.

Vick’s hall of fame career began with establishing a football hall of fame college career. Virginia Tech was the spot to be when Michael took the field. Hell Michael was so electrifying it place unfair expectations on his kid brother Marcus. Nonetheless Vick led the Hokies to an ACC championship game with an unforgettable performance against the then dominant powerhouse of Miami. Vick was selected number one overall to the Atlanta Falcons. In franchise history, I don’t believe Atlanta has had such a polarizing figure in their city. Everyone had a number 7 Atlanta Falcon jersey. On Madden, it was who would be first to select the Falcons because Vick was simply an unfair advantage. Not the greatest of season records, he was never a Brady or Manning although the team around him was not on such a level either, neither was the head coach.

At any rate, Vick was the of the most popular sports figure throughout the 2000s. In fact, Vick was never larger a figure than when facing the dog fighting scandal back in 2007. And whether you agreed with his actions or not, none can deny that it was the focal point of all news during its time. And as always all attention was on Vick when it was when it was time for him to return, which may correct me in being his biggest contribution to being in the Hall of Fame. Once he returned, Vick became a model citizen. In fact, it’s safe to say that he so far is the best example of one being able to transform their life practices. Although he changed his lifestyle, his game was still the same old electrifying. Once again stunning the world with his on the field performance, Vick became the first player to sign two 100 million dollar contracts in a career.

Michael Vick’s impact on the NFL and football in general is undeniably Hall of Fame worthy. He continues to impact the football world today and from a personal point you can’t deny the impact he had on African American males who predominantly make up all NFL players which is much more essential than many will offer forward.

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Football Special Teams Training – How to Bust the Wedge

Football Special Teams Training – How to Bust the Wedge

Football Special Teams Training – How to Bust the Wedge

Special teams can make the difference in who goes home with the win and who suffers the loss.

Simply put the receiving teams job is to advance the kick off return as far down the field as possible. With a couple of key blocks, put the ball in the end zone. Setting up those key blocks starts with the wedge.

The wedge as we all know is a wall of players the return man screens behind hoping to find the opening that can spring him for big yards or a 6 point run back.

The kicking team sends down its rushers and wedge busters, running full speed, risking life and limb as they hurl their bodies at the players making up the wedge. Sometimes the wedge busters are successful, stopping big run backs. However there are many times they are not, allowing the big momentum changing run back. Momentum that can change the out come of the game.

How do we become more effective in busting the return teams blocking wedge? Don’t try to run over or knock down the blockers. Instead split the blockers.

Run straight at the blocker full speed, sell him on the fact you plan to run over the top of him. No matter how skilled and practiced he is, at the last moment he will be bracing for the impact. Rather than make head to head contact, split the blockers, run between them taking the best angle to the ball carrier. Not only do you reduce injury risk to yourself, you will frequently find yourself in position to make the tackle, stopping a long kick off return and staving off any momentum changing returns, like a 6 pointer.

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Should Girls Be Playing Youth Football? NO

Should Girls Be Playing Youth Football? NO

Should Girls Be Playing Youth Football? NO

Should Girls be Playing Youth Football?

This may be a bit of a controversial subject for some but in the society we live in the answer should be a resounding no!

Do some girls have the size and aggressiveness to play youth football? Absolutely, I see sisters of my players that would make excellent football players, but I’m not sure it would be the best for the girl or the boys on our youth football team.

Today’s society seems to want to devalue women, rap music with its demeaning depiction of women as throw aways and worthy of abuse, TV and movies that depict women as abuse worthy sex objects and the same with the print media and the mainstreaming of pornography.

In inner-city Omaha nearly 70% of our players have no man in the home. If you think I’m exaggerating, we have had games with 2 people in the stands and both were females, not enough for a chain crew. This was not a one time deal, we have had many games where we did not have 3 males to run the chains. Many of our players have no model of behavior in the house to «copy» of how to properly treat a woman. The kids often see first hand women being physically and mentally abused and of course they hear it in the music they listen to, on TV and in print. I’ve been coaching youth football for 15 years and the «dadless» house problem is getting worse every year. Tom Osborne in his book «Faith in the Game» claims this problem is increasing and is responsible for the majority of crime and problems with young males.

If we let girls play tackle football with boys, we teach the boys that harsh physical contact with females is acceptable behavior. In fact as coaches we would have to encourage and reward this physical contact. Our players would get in the habit and be used to being physical with females, the act would desensitize everyone involved in the activity of physical force being applied to females by males. The female in the meantime is learning that harsh physical contact with males is acceptable, it is now a habit. Now while having females on your team may help the short term progress of some of our football teams I’m not sure we are helping either the boy or the girl in their long term development as productive members of our society.

Girls are as good as and even better at boys at many activities, this is not about the girls having the ability to play. This is about breaking the abusive cycle many single parent families or even two parent families are in today. In my mind, coaching youth football is much more than teaching kids how to run good football plays and how to block and tackle. It is about teaching valuable life lessons the youth football player can take with him for use in his entire lifetime. My dad taught me how to treat women with reverence and respect and I was rewarded for that behavior with a wonderful wife and very satisfying family life. Dad not only told me, he showed me, even when him and mom had disagreements, they never got loud or physical. He modeled the proper behavior every day, many of our kids NEVER see that proper behavior being modeled for them. As a boy, we were threatened that hitting a girl or even pushing one was «mortal sin» material that could never happen. If it did happen, I would be dealt with by my father in the most extreme severe way, in addition it was also deemed cowardly.

In 2001 we had an 8 year old football player of one of our Omaha teams strike a girl in the face with his fist over some type of disagreement in the playground area of our field. Of course we spoke to the boy and let him know he should never strike a woman and dismissed him from our program with the promise he could come back the next year if we saw significant improvement in his attitude and actions. We felt he needed the program and contact with strong male role models. The player had to attend every practice and the games and watch, not play. We persuaded the parents of the struck girl not to press formal charges. Beleive it or not the striking players «grandpa» argued the kids case and said the girl «pushed him first». That made me ill, the poor kid has no dad in the house and a «grandpa» that thinks it’s OK to hit girls in the face that push you first. No wonder his daughter had no man in the house. I wanted to smack grandpa in the face but thought that would not be the right message for the boy to see either. We really worked this kid, but I have feel there is a very high probability this player will be a woman user/abuser when he gets older and will have a very unsatisfying family life. While the grandson did come back, grandpa was not invited to coach again for us.

I’m never going to allow females to play in my youth football program. I don’t want our football players life lessons and memories to include when our stud linebacker knocked the stuffings out of a girl running back who had snot bubbles and tears streaming down her face.

However, some people will bite the hand that feeds it. In our rural program we have had no female football sign ups. In Omaha we have had a few moms try and sign their daughters up for football. After the initial disappointment wore off and the mom was told why we think it makes sense in the long run for females not to play, the moms were very supportive. I can think of just one case where mom didn’t «get it» and pulled her son out of the program because we would not allow her daughter to be pummeled by boys on our team. I can still see her today, a single mom with 3 kids that needed the program who refused to listen to reason. This mom had two missing front teeth, probably caused by the same cycle we were trying to help break.

Today we have tackle football and even wrestling between boys and girls, whats next boxing? or how about ultimate fighting? Where do we draw the line? If gilrs are as good as boys in football, why not boxing? Why not wrestiling? Why not Ultimatre Fighting?

There are some that don’t care about the long term implications for both parties, they just have a selfish desire to see their children excel, no matter the cost. I cringe at what’s in store for that poor girl.

Let’s draw the line at tackle football.

For more free Youth Football Plays or free Youth Football Coaching tips please stop by Dave’s web site:

Youth Football

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150 Years of Australian Football in Queensland?

150 Years of Australian Football in Queensland?

150 Years of Australian Football in Queensland?

Who would have believed this possible in this «Die in the Wool» Rugby League State?

The first game of Australian Football in Queensland occurred in 1866 well before any of the other football codes began to be played in this state. This occurred not long after the first games in Victoria. Some of the men involved in the first games in Victoria were at the forefront of those first games in Queensland. The game remained strong in such centres as Ipswich, Maryborough and to a lesser extent in the capital city of Brisbane until the mid-1880s.

At that time two decisions made around 1886 brought almost the demise of our Australian game in Queensland and allowed for the rise in popularity and growth of firstly Rugby Union and, then Rugby League.

The first decision was taken by the Queensland grammar schools to replace Australian Football by Rugby Union. The second decision occurred when Brisbane teams refused to make the journey to Ipswich to play games. This lead to a falling interest in the game in both towns and rather quickly players sought other sports, including Rugby Union.

Prior to this time there had been some «intercolonial» games between a Queensland combination, a Victorian team and one from Sydney. But in the mid-1880s, there was the first New South Wales versus Queensland Rugby match which created great interest in the other code. This began the rise of the rugby codes in Queensland.

The Australian game struggled into the 20th century, becoming a minor sport played mainly in Brisbane. But during the latter half of the century, country leagues grew in number and strength. So much so, that it is true to say that the game is played in every provincial city and their surrounds across the state.

Many of these country leagues have interesting histories. It is true to acknowledge that, in some areas, footballers might play both Rugby League and Australian Football at the same time.

When the Australia wide national competition began during the 1980s, interest in our national game in Queensland grew rapidly. This occurred some 100 years after the problems of the 1880s with the arrival of the Brisbane Bears. When the Bears and the Fitzroy Lions amalgamated and won three national premierships in a row, the game grew even more rapidly throughout the state as we now had our own team in the national competition.

Now, in the 150th year of our game in Queensland, there is a group of men and women sitting down, sifting through records, programs, newspaper reports and photographs, writing histories of their clubs and football leagues so that our game’s history is preserved for future generations.

The major project is to write a book which covers the whole picture of our game. Many of group writing the histories have contributed sections to be incorporated in this major project.

This project is called Q150 and details of the project can be found on the Queensland Australian Football Forensics web site at http://www.q150.net.au.

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4-2-5 Defense – Five Reasons to Use It

4-2-5 Defense – Five Reasons to Use It

4-2-5 Defense – Five Reasons to Use It

Why is the 4-2-5 Defense becoming more popular? It offers versatility, varied fronts, making it hard for the quarterback to get accurate reads. The 4-2-5 Defense also has been proven to be effective against the spread offense. This article will focus on five reasons to consider using the 4 2 5 Defense.

*First Reason*

The ability to keep things simple, the 4-2-5 uses a basic four man front that allows for multiple defensive plays that are difficult for the offense to read. The simplicity of this defense doesn’t depend on a strong Mike linebacker or outside linebackers, instead the 4-2-5 defense relies more on the strong safety, weak safety and two inside linebackers.

* Second Reason*

Relying more on the strong safety, weak safety and two inside linebackers the defense is more versatile and able to adjust to the formations and or motions shown by the offense.

* Third Reason*

Using a five man secondary makes it easier to disguise the defense. With five men in the secondary, the defense can make it appear to have eight to nine men in the box, making it more difficult for the quarterback to get an accurate pre snap read.

*Fourth Reason*

A five man secondary puts more speed on the field. With more and more teams running the spread offense the defense needs to answer with sped and the 4 2 5 defense supplies the needed speed.

*Fifth Reason*

Whether a zone or man to man coverage is called the 4-2-5 can keep the offense off balance. Using the base front, the D can put more men in blitzing position or appear to be blitzing, making it more difficult for the offense read the defense.

In conclusion, if you are thinking of changing defenses, the 4-2-5 brings more speed and versatility to the field and has been effective against the spread.

There are several 4-2-5 coaching videos that can show you why to use the 4 2 5 defense.

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What Happened In The UK In 1996?

What Happened In The UK In 1996?

What Happened In The UK In 1996?

Breaking 1996 down into the biggest news, sports and entertainment events; here’s what happened…

Two tragedies hit the hearts of Britons in 1996, the nation’s sympathies going out to the people of Dunblane and Manchester. In Dunblane, a crazed gunman went on a shooting spree in at a local infant school, killing an entire class and their teacher. Later in the year, as a direct response to those ill-fated events, the Government announced that it would be outlawing almost all handguns in the UK.

In Manchester, a huge bomb devastated its busy central shopping area just as it was filling up with eager Saturday shoppers. Police managed to start an evacuation before it blew up but scores of people were still killed or injured in the blast. Such was the damage caused, that the episode led to a total regeneration of Manchester city centre.

Also hitting the news in ’96 was the introduction of the first genetically modified (or GM) food to go on sale in British supermarkets. Modified tomato puree was the cause of all the fuss with some critics dubbing it a «Frankenstein food».

The world of sport was dominated by England’s hosting of the European football championships (Euro ’96). The England v Scotland group stage match drew much attention with Gazza’s wonder goal eventually stealing the win for the home team. Cheered on by home support, the ‘Three Lions’ made it all the way to the semi-finals, the nation going football crazy as it looked as if England were really going to win a major tournament for the first time since ’66, then, as really should have been expected, they lost on penalties to Germany.

Entertainment wise, carrot topped Chris Evans re-invented the chat show format with his hit show ‘TFI Friday’.Presenting celebrity gossip, the hippest bands and lad friendly guests, this unscripted, chaotic program briefly made Evans the most sought after man on TV. Over on the BBC, a group of thirty-something lawyers were gaining huge ratings; ‘This Life’ being a bit like the American ‘Friends’ but with much more ‘bad’ behaviour and saucy goings on.

The big screen was blessed with one of the jewels of the British film-making crown, ‘Trainspotting’. Despite featuring heroin, needles, vomit and disgusting toilet bowls, this was the coolest thing of the year and took Ewan McGregor from nowhere to ‘Star Wars’. The more family friendly film of 1996 was ‘Toy Story’; it being the first feature length movie ever to be animated entirely by computer. The results were quite stunning and people flocked to see ‘Woody’ (a pull-string cowboy) and ‘Buzz Lightyear’ (a high-tech space ranger) battle it out to become little Andy’s favourite toy.

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Coaching Outside Linebackers

Coaching Outside Linebackers

Coaching Outside Linebackers

The hardest position on the field for most defenses is the Outside Linebacker. In a typical 8-man Front, such as the 3-5-3 or 4-2-5 defenses, these players have dual responsibilities.

Responsibility

The Outside Linebacker is primarily responsible for containing the run, forcing the ball carrier to turn back inside on edge runs. He can also force the ball carrier to bubble and work laterally to the sideline, allowing pursuit to get there to help.

The second responsibility for the OLB is to cover the flats on the pass. Typically, 8-man fronts are going to be running Cover 3 as the base coverage.

Most defensive coordinators use a mixture of Zone and Man coverages. The OLB will normally be locked on the #2 Receiver to his side in Cover 1 or Cover 0, a slot or Tight End. When a player is locked up in man coverage, he cannot be considered a part of the run defense.

Alignment

The Outside Linebacker’s alignment will depend on your defense and his abilities. Typically, he will be somewhere in the range of 3-5 yards outside of the End Man on the Line of Scrimmage (EMOLS) and 2-5 yards off the Line of Scrimmage (LOS).

If there is a #2 receiver, the OLB commonly uses an apex alignment, 5 yards off the ball and halfway between the EMOLS and the slot. Depending on the team and the ability of the slot, you may choose to align him closer to the slot to deter the pass or tighter to the EMOLS to help on the running game.

Keys and Reaction

The OLB’s primary key is the EMOLS, a Tackle or Tight End, for a High-Hat, Low Hat read. High Hat, meaning the OT’s helmet pops up as in a pass set, tells him the play is pass, and he should open up to the flats (but this will be dictated by coverage call). On a low hat read, when the OT fires out with a flat back, he is assuming run. The OLB should be thinking run unless he gets a definite high hat pass read.

You can help the OLB get his reads by studying the film of the EMOLS he will be reading. Different teams employ different techniques for pass and run blocking.

After getting a low hat read, the OLB checks his secondary key – the running back. He needs to attack the run appropriately by reading the run block and backfield action:

EMOLS hard down block inside, RB to you: Attack the line of scrimmage to replace where the EMOLS left. Expect a kick-out block from a RB or pulling guard. Take it on with your inside arm, keeping the outside arm and leg free and the shoulders square to the line. Constrict the running lane inside and be ready to make the tackle of the Ball Carrier bounces outside.

EMOLS drive blocks the Defensive End, RB to you: Shuffle up and in, but do not close all the way to the line of scrimmage. Maintain outside leverage until the RB declares inside, then fold in to make the tackle. If he bounces outside, box the play.

EMOLS Reaches to you, RB fast flow outside to you: Attack to the line of scrimmage but keep your width. If you have a #2 receiver, decide whether you can beat him to the point of attack or need to defeat his block. If you have to defeat his block, go through him, driving him back and work to his outside to contain the play.

EMOLS Zone or Reach away from you, Backfield flow away: Keep your depth, fold inside to stack the Defensive End. Check for Counter, Reverse, Bootleg action and be ready to work back. Do not pass the Defensive End until the ball declares away from you.

The Play Action Pass can put a lot of stress on your backers. If the OLB reads run, he should attack because he is a run first player. But once he realizes pass, usually by the secondary key action, he should bust it to get back out to his pass coverage area. Never give up on a play!

Coaching the Outside Linebackers

The individual techniques needed for the OLBs are similar to any defensive player. They need to be able to read their key and react, defeat a block, make a tackle, pass drop and cause turnovers. All of these skills should be worked in a collection of 5 Every Day Drills, if time allows. Add in other drills to work your weaknesses.

Group work is crucial to the Outside Linebacker understanding his role. He will work with the Safeties, Corners, Defensive Ends and Inside Linebackers. Set up group drills each week that allow him to see his role in the defense with each of these groups. Make sure the group drills are relevant to the opponent you will face that week.

Understand that Offensive Coordinators will be picking on your Outside Linebacker. They are the player who is most easily put in conflict. Offensive schemes will try to frustrate him, and get him guessing.

Your Outside Linebackers will make mistakes! Train them to trust their keys, play physical, and run to the football at all times to have the best OLB play possible.

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Best Universities To Watch A College Football Game

Best Universities To Watch A College Football Game

Best Universities To Watch A College Football Game

There are some beautiful campus’ across the country. From the warm climate schools on the west coast to the east coast schools that have a crisp feel to them in the fall. There are so many great campus’. But to have a great college football atmosphere on Saturday there has to be more than just beautiful scenery. You have to have a special energy around the campus that is contagious. The school has to have a loyal group of fans that are always there and cheer for their team through the good times and the bad. I’m going to go through what I think are the best Universities across the country to enjoy a college football game at.

Ole Miss (Mississippi) Rebels – Ole Miss which is located in Oxford, MS is one of the coolest places in the country to enjoy the college football gameday experience. Ole Miss has a loyal and passionate fan base that is always showing up with energy and making the most of their fall Saturdays. The special thing that they do at Ole Miss is that they have a huge tailgate before every home game at what they call the Grove. The Grove is a huge area on campus where everyone sets up their tailgates and has a big party before the game. I personally have never had the chance to experience it but I have friends who go to Ole Miss and they say that it is unlike anything else. The energy and great atmosphere are unrivaled and everyone always looks to be having a great time. Those Rebel fans sure know how to tailgate the right way.

University of Wisconsin – The University of Wisconsin which is located in Madison, WI and is another school with a great tailgate atmosphere. This is one of those schools that have a loyal fan base down to the core. Those fans will show up in numbers no matter if the team is having a good or bad year, they will be there. They also don’t complain about the weather up there. It gets pretty frigid there in the winter (sub zero temperatures) but the fans always show and make the most of the experience. The tailgating experience in Madison is a little different from some other schools due to the fact that they do tailgate outdoors and grill, but the bar scene is also a big part of the experience.

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Streaks Are Meant To End – Records Are Meant To Be Broken

Streaks Are Meant To End – Records Are Meant To Be Broken

Streaks Are Meant To End – Records Are Meant To Be Broken

For the first time since September 27,1992 Brett Favre will be on the bench with a clip board in hand watching his team play. Tonight when the Minnesota Vikings play the New York Giants, Favre will not have an active role on the field.

Favre’s record, excluding play off games, is a starting quarterback for 297 consecutive games over 19 seasons. That streak ends tonight,leaving a new NFL record to be broken.

Unlike Baseball’s iron man Cal Ripken who chose to sit out a game, Favre was forced to sit out tonight after taking a vicious hit from Buffalo linebacker Arthur Moats just three snaps into the Viking – Bills game.

Regardless of opinions formed about Favre over these last few seasons it is time to just look at what he has done, 297 consecutive regular season games, amazing.

What makes Favre’s accomplishment so rare is the average NFL career spans less than 4 years, yet Favre lasted 19 seasons.

To put more perspective on this Peyton Manning is the current player with most consecutive starts behind #4. Manning has 205 starts and could catch Favre in 2016.

But has anyone played the position with the passion and flare Brett has exhibited through out his career? How many times have we seen BF take off running to get that first down, take on linebackers head on instead of sliding. How many times have we seen him get off the turf battered and beaten with torn muscles, concussions and broken bones only to start the following week.

Former Detroit Lions defensive tackle and football great Alex Karras once said quarterbacks should where a skirt in the backfield. Karras never met Favre at least on the gridiron. Karras was a 4 time pro bowler who also made the 1960s all NFL team who played from 1958 to 1970.

Tonight marks the passing of an era the Brett Favre consecutive starts streak leaving new record to be broken. I dont know if it will be Manning or some one else, I just hope it is some one who has the same passion for football and the same flare that belongs to the once invincible Brett Favre.

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The Best There Was

The Best There Was

The Best There Was

In the annals of sports where in each particular one whether it is Basketball, Baseball or others there are those who are revered by their peers and sportswriters from across generations who bestow upon one individual as the greatest there was. In professional football it is only fitting that now during the current NFL season to look back at the one person who so many consider the «best there was.» In the storied history of the NFL even by today’s standards one individual stands alone to exemplify what sportsmanship, true grit and determination in spite of overwhelming odds rose above and for eighteen years reigned supreme as the best quarterback to have ever played the game. There are many who emphatically state Johnny Unitas was the best there was. Even today, there are those who feel the Johnny U could command any team, read the complex defense playbooks of today and literally take the whole game to a new level of excitement, skill and daring.

With his signature flat top hair cut Johnny Unitas ascended to pro footballs highest order. Few, if any, sports stories are more dramatic or more complete than the story of Johnny Unitas. He was, just after all a ninth-round draft pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955. Even though Unitas was cut before he even threw one pass in a game he was still determined to play. For the rest of the year Unitas substituted his construction job by playing semi-pro football for $6 a game. Back then players were called upon to play what is commonly known as Iron man football. That is to play both defense and offense positions. Johnny Unitas excelled at all. But, it was his passing ability that eventually caught the eye of other pro scouts.

It was after the 1955 season that the Baltimore Colts head coach Weeb Ewbank learned of an «outstanding prospect» on the Pittsburgh sandlots. Ewbank signed Johnny for $17,000 on a make the team basis. Programmed strictly as a backup, Unitas got his chance in the fourth game when the Colts’ starter was injured. And, they say the rest is history! For the next 18 seasons, «Johnny U» ran up a ledger of game winning exploits that have remained the benchmark by which all other quarterbacks are measured. Many of his accomplishments have remained untouched for over fifty years. In all of NFL history there has never been the likes of another Johnny U. Sure, there were others like Bart Star, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Tom Brady. But, it was Johnny Unitas who put the NFL on the map and into the nations consciousness.

Without a doubt, it was his last-second heroics in the 1958 NFL title game, often called «the greatest game ever played,» that turned Unitas into a household name and the legend began. The greatest game between the Colts and the Giants was played before a national television audience, gave Unitas his chance to demonstrate all of his marvelous attributes, confidence, courage, leadership, play calling genius, and passing skill all with-out the play book calling by today’s coaches. Just think of a Johnny Unitas as the quarterback today. He once told Weeb Ewbank to sit back and relax and just enjoy the game. The confidence and determination displayed under intense pressure in a collision sport like football in the NFL just showcased Johnny Unitas true talents.

As in any professional sport age does have it’s way of slowing down one’s once great ability and by 1974 Johnny Unitas had to leave the game he single handily brought to the nations living rooms. A household name where every aspiring football player especially young quarterbacks all tried to emulate. He always was rebounding from injuries which became a Unitas trademark. A typical incident occurred in 1958, when he led Baltimore to the Western Conference title, he was hit by the Packers’ Johnny Symank in the sixth game and hospitalized with three broken ribs and a punctured lung. Four games later, he led the Colts from a 27-7 halftime deficit to a 35-27 win over the San Francisco 49ers, a performance he rated higher than the season’s celebrated title game.

Unitas might have been overlooked as a young player, but he was always a forceful, confident leader. «Anything I do,» he said, «I always have a reason for.»Even at the end of that championship game, he dismissed Ewbank’s instructions to keep the ball on the ground. «We don’t want an interception here,» the coach reminded him during a timeout. Two plays later, inside the 10, Unitas passed to Jim Mutscheller down to the one. Asked about the risk of an interception, Unitas said, «If I saw a danger of that, I would have thrown the ball out of bounds. When you know what you’re doing, you’re not intercepted.» Unitas threw for 32 touchdowns in 1959 and the Colts beat the Giants again in the title game. In the 31-16 victory, Unitas ran for the go-ahead touchdown and passed for 264 yards and two scores.

His 3,481 yards passing topped the NFL in 1963. The next season he was the league’s MVP when he led the Colts to the NFL’s best record at 12-2 and was first in yards per pass attempt (9.26). In winning another MVP in 1967, he had a league-high 58.5 completion percentage as he passed for 3,428 yards and 20 touchdowns in the Colts’ 11-1-2 season. After being hurt most of the 1968 season, Unitas returned and led the Colts on their only scoring drive in historic Super Bowl III, a 16-7 loss to the New York Jets. Two years later, in the Colts’ 16-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V, he threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to John Mackey before suffering an injury late in the first half.

The persistent injuries finally caught up with him and in 1972 the Colts under new Coach Don Shula were forced to bench Unitas. The following January sold him to the San Diego Chargers, for whom he played only one season before retiring. In his 18-year career, Unitas threw for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns in 211 games. What made Unitas special, Berry said, «was his uncanny instinct for calling the right play at the right time, his icy composure under fire, his fierce competitiveness, and his utter disregard for his own safety.» On Sept. 11, 2002 when the rest of the nation was remembering a national tragedy Unitas was working out at a physical therapy center in the Baltimore suburb of Timonium when he suffered a fatal heart attack and slipped quietly into history. He was 69. The best there was, was now gone

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