View Full Version : John Unitas, Shunned By The Pittsburgh Steelers

07-29-2009, 07:48 PM
This is eerie. "Rifle armed kid from Pittsburgh (albeit Pitt) and a "massive and mobile" Baltimore defense.

This is more about the talent we passed on before the 70s than it is about anything present. But the parallel to today is interesting.


October 28, 1957

John Unitas, Shunned By The Pittsburgh Steelers, Is The Mover In The Surprising Strength Of Baltimore. The Rifle-armed Kid From The Steel Country Is The Most Effective Passer In The Nfl Through The First Four Games

Tex Maule

Pts. Yds. Rush.Yds. Pass. Pass Comp.
Giants 35 128 212 14-21
Eagles 17 186 84 6-10
Lions 31 178 191 12-34
49ers 24 78 168 13-26
Cardinals 44 256 182 8-16
Bears 34 218 223 11-19
Steelers 0 54 118 14-28
Browns 7 103 182 13-25
Colts 27 117 205 16-21
Packers 14 194 104 10-20
Redskins 14 169 168 11-22
Rams 26 79 142 12-18

Much of the surprising early foot shown by the Baltimore Colts may be attributed to a cool, lanky youngster from the Pittsburgh steel country. There are, of course, contributing factors: a massive and mobile defensive line which puts terrifying pressure on opposing quarterbacks; a pair of rookie pass defenders who have performed much better than any rookie should, and a rookie linebacker who aids and abets them as if he had been around the league for years. But, finally, the Colts win on the same prime mover which operates all professional football teams—a great passer and ball handler at T quarterback.

For Baltimore, it is John Unitas, a tall, leather-tough youngster of 24 who was discarded by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955 without a real opportunity to prove himself. The other day, sitting relaxed in the small apartment he rents in Baltimore, pleasantly bedeviled by Jan (2) and John Jr. (15 months), Unitas was still puzzled by the short shrift he got from the Steelers. "I passed for three or four touchdowns in scrimmage and I got away on a couple of 30-yard runs, but they never let me play in exhibitions," he said. He is standard size for a pro quarterback—6 feet 1 and 195 pounds-and he wears his hair in a bristly blond crew cut. He smiles easily and often, and he took the chivying of his children with an easy, affectionate good nature. "I played semipro ball the rest of 1955," he remembered, rescuing a sugar bowl from John Jr. "Then the Browns were interested in me, but Don Kellett, general manager of the Colts, called and offered me a contract and I took it." Jan slipped on a throw rug and fell with a thump. Unitas picked her up and held her against his shoulder.

"The Colt offense wasn't hard for me to pick up," he said. "My college coach at Louisville teaches the same system as Weeb Eubanks. I just had to get used to making quicker handoffs because the pro backs are faster. Then coach has worked with me to teach me to throw a softer pass—hang the ball up there for the receiver, you know. This year, too, I have more confidence in myself and the team and I think they respect me, too. That helps."

Unitas has, in four games, thrown for 12 touchdowns and completed well over 50% of his passes, a phenomenal performance. He seems likely to continue as one of the best quarterbacks in the league, too.

On this particular afternoon, he put Jan down gently and pulled on an old University of Louisville sweater. "Guess I'll go look at some movies," he said. "You can learn a lot from game movies."


07-29-2009, 08:19 PM
Well this is going back even before my time. Back the late 60's when I started watching them, the Steelers were a awful team. I seem to remember they won only one game in 69.

07-29-2009, 09:38 PM

My Mother wasn't born yet.
My Dad was an infant.

But yeah, the Steelers were Pirates-awful back then.

07-29-2009, 09:44 PM
Heck, I wasn't even born yet. :chuckle:

07-29-2009, 10:04 PM
Heck, I wasn't even born yet. :chuckle:

you seem over over happy about that.... :wink02:

tony hipchest
07-29-2009, 10:36 PM
this sign is in front of the high school field on the corner of 40th and butler street (where arsenal park is).

my grandparents have lived in the same house for 60 years which is 2 blocks away, and i cant count how many times i played there or watched local league soft ball games from the bleachers (i always remember someone always had a little portable radio with the pirates game on).


anyways, its hard to read, but it says how johnny u led the semi-pro bloomfield rams to a steel bowl football conference championship on that field in 1955.

all those years and i never knew, until i saw the sign walking by in '07 (it had obviously been put up in commemoration after his death).

07-29-2009, 11:48 PM
We had Unitis and Len Dawson back in the 50s and let em go.

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-29-2009, 11:53 PM
Yeah, and Bobby Layne was a Steeler at one time too. Brett Favre was a Falcon, Jerome Bettis was a Ram and James Harrison was cut by the Steelers and Ravens............nothing really new.

07-30-2009, 02:33 PM
There are the Old Testament Steelers before Noll and the New Testament after he arrived. The legendary Steelers began when they drafted Joe Greene in 1969.

The team reincarnated itself in 2004.

07-30-2009, 09:41 PM
My favorite ex Steeler of all time is.....

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_PuZoLkvmBbc/SYo75gPyMTI/AAAAAAAACWI/3m8Yd9Z4uRk/s320/al-bundy.jpg....Al 4 touchdowns in 1 game Bundy!!

07-31-2009, 09:29 PM
My favorite ex Steeler of all time is.....

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_PuZoLkvmBbc/SYo75gPyMTI/AAAAAAAACWI/3m8Yd9Z4uRk/s320/al-bundy.jpg....Al 4 touchdowns in 1 game Bundy!!

A nice guy also. Served him a few beers back in the day when he would stop by at the Bar I tended bar at in Boardman, Ohio.

07-31-2009, 09:32 PM
We had Unitis and Len Dawson back in the 50s and let em go.

And passed on Jim freakin' Brown in the '57 draft to take Dawson. The Browns took him one pick later. :doh:

07-31-2009, 09:49 PM
From what I remember too, Knoll passed on Marino and kept Malone as the starter for the Steelers...bad bad choice lol.

08-01-2009, 07:05 PM
Winning the bowls has always been a result of an offense than can score when needed

someday football fans and pundits will catch onto to OFFENSE wins Championships