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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Learn La Liga Rules in Regards to Transfer, Promotion, Relegation & Non-EU Players

Learn La Liga Rules in Regards to Transfer, Promotion, Relegation & Non-EU Players

La Liga refers to the first division Spanish League. The top professional football league in Spain is officially called as Liga BBVA for the reason of sponsorship. It is one of the most professional and exciting leagues in Europe, attracting some best football talents from all over the globe.

Just like any other leagues, La Liga is also guided by some strict rules and regulations regarding promotional and relegation of the clubs as well as how many non-EU players can play in the league. Let us take a quick glance over the La Liga rules.

Rules of Promotion-Relegation

Every year, 20 teams take part in the competition. The three teams finishing at the bottom of the league table are relegated to the 2nd division of the Spanish league system, with the top two rankers in the immediately lower division and the winner in a play-off replacing the relegated clubs.

Inclusion of Non-EU Players

There is an upper cap in regards to retaining of non-EU players in this top-most division of Spanish league. In La Liga, every team is allowed to retain a maximum of three offshore players. Even in the second division, each participating clubs can keep hold of only 2 players. If any La Liga club is relegated to the lower division, it is allowed to keep hold of the same number of foreign players until their contracts are expired.

What does it mean by «Non-EU»? The phrase has been repeated many times following several verdicts from the European Court of Justice. According to a decision adopted by the Spanish Federation in this regard, the participating La Liga teams are entitled to make the best use of the rules and bring many foreign players to their squad.

Claim of Citizenship

The foreign players are allowed to apply for Spanish citizenship from the countries where their ancestors descended from. In La Liga, a non-EU player can claim for Spanish Citizenship if he has played in Spain for at least, five years and it may result into triple citizenship. Let us give you an example. Leo Franco was born in Argentina and has Italian ancestry. He is capable of applying for Spain citizenship, having played in the country for more than five years.

The players arriving from the ACP countries including Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, are not considered against the Non-EU category as per the Kolpak ruling.

Breach of Rules & Conduct

All the La Liga clubs are required to abide by the rules and regulations as clearly specified by the highest authority in the Spanish football league system that, in turn, ensures compatibility with the guidelines made by FIFA, the governing body of football in the world. In recent times, Barcelona have been handed punishment by FIFA for failing to conform to the rules regarding transfer of the players after allegation of transfer of the under-age players (below 18).

The defending La Liga champions are not allowed to play any new player until January of 2016. The club applied against the ban but it was not lifted. However, they have been allowed to sell players during the time of transfer ban.

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