1955: This picture of a tall, lanky Johnny Unitas was made during the young quarterback’s brief stint with the Steelers. That, at least, is what a note attached to the picture indicates. Notice that he’s wearing number 14, instead of the 19 that would later become so famous.
Of course, the Steelers cut Unitas before he ever took a snap in a game. That’s part of NFL lore, and an indication of how luckless (or hapless) the Steelers could be in the team’s first decades of existence. Unitas was a Pittsburgh kid who’d grown up in Brookline, hauled coal through the streets at age eight, and played for St. Justin High School in Mt. Washington. Can you imagine how popular he would have been as a Steeler?
Ah, but it was never to happen. Unitas went on to play for the Baltimore Colts and became what many still regard as the game’s greatest quarterback. He was selected NFL Player of the Year three times, named to 10 Pro Bowls and, in 1979, inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Below, PG sportswriter Bob Dvorchak recalls the career of the man who had the “Golden Arm.”