Johnny U Turns 75


Forget best player in the history of Baltimore football. Johnny Unitas has been regularly called the best player in the history of the game.

The deceased quarterback would have celebrated his 75th birthday Wednesday.

One man with a particular interest in "Johnny U" is Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.

Bisciotti, 48, grew up in Baltimore, idolizing the Hall of Fame Baltimore Colt as a child.

"We'd go to Westminster for Colts training camp," Bisciotti said. "We have pictures with various players, and I have one wearing Johnny Unitas' helmet."

In fact, that picture is prominently featured in the Ravens' media guide.

But, Bisciotti's devotion to the Baltimore Colts and No. 19, go far beyond a simple picture, as evidenced by the large collegtion of Colts and Unitas memorabilia he purchased in 2007, which he immediately loaned to the Sports Legends Museum in downtown Charm City.

"It was important to keep those memories in Baltimore, and for fans to get a chance to see them," Bisciotti explained.

Unitas' memory still lives in the Baltimore football annals.

He still holds the records for attempts (5,110), completions (2,796), passing yards (39,678) and touchdown passes (287).

In addition, he brought a championship to Baltimore in 1958 against the New York Giants in what is commonly referred to as the "Greatest Game Ever Played."

The Ravens, who earned another title with Super Bowl XXXV, have done their part to respect the signal-caller at M&T Bank Stadium by creating "Unitas Plaza," which features a large bronze statue of Unitas unleashing a spiral.

Even though Unitas passed away on Sept. 11, 2002 from a heart attack, he is still fresh in the hearts and minds of the Baltimore faithful.

To see that, all it takes is a quick look at the Unitas statue on Sundays, where loyal fans rub his signature black cleat on their way to cheer on the Ravens.

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