Juice This: Give Me Johnny Unitas

NFL Greatest Unitas

A lot of debate circulating about who’s the greatest of all time (GOAT).

Are you kidding?

Is it Brady, because he’s about to win his fifth Super Bowl? (Shoulda’ lost to Seattle).

Is it Montana, whose four will be the equivalent of Brady’s five because of the differences in the eras, the rules and the athletes?

No. It’s neither.

The GOAT quarterback is Johnny Unitas. Didn’t really play in the Super Bowl era. Only got into one and almost rallied his Colts back into it.

But he not only mastered the two-minute drill, he practically invented it. In the era preceding the two-minute warning, in the era when teams threw 25 passes a game—that was a lot. There is a reason running backs don’t get drafted so much in the first round anymore. They’re worthless. Outside of Ezekiel Elliott, who has the ability to hide his team’s defensive flaws by keeping the defense off the field.

Unitas was Brady before there was a Brady. He was so revered, Peyton Manning tried to wear Unitas’ signature black hi-tops when Johnny U. passed away. But the No Fun League said no because it constituted a uniform violation.

And after Johnny Unitas, here comes Fran “The Scram” Tarkenton, Sir Francis. He was the “The Scram” because he had no offensive line when he broke in with the then-expansion Minnesota Vikings. So instead, he had to scramble all the time. He still managed to push Unitas for all-time stats in the era when the running game exceeded the passing game in importance.

But if you want one quarterback, for one game, give me Johnny U. every time. Don’t be so impressed with all the stats some quarterbacks have compiled. Yes, 5,000 yards in a season is impressive, but I’d rather hand off to Gayle Sayers or Jim Brown, runners who could make 3rd-and-5 not necessarily a passing down by default. Drew Brees regularly throws for 5,000 yards per season for the Saints and where has that gotten him? One Super Bowl (win), a big fat contract and, of late (since 2013), no playoff appearances.

He has better career stats than Tom Brady. Or Peyton Manning. Or Joe Montana. Even Johnny Unitas and Fran Tarkenton. So is he the greatest quarterback of all time?

Nyet.

Give me Johnny U.. Any day, anytime, anywhere, any game.

The game is so different today. If you don’t throw 40 times per game, you’re not statistically significant anymore.

While we’re at it, give me (Cincinnati’s) Anthony Munoz at tackle to protect Unitas. Nobody beat Munoz. Nobody. There are few, if any linemen now near as good as Munoz.

NFL Greatest Unitas

And as long as we’re here, who’s the greatest coach of all time? Bill (Spygate) Belichick? He may wind up winning more Super Bowls than anyone else, but he couldn’t beat the Tom Coughlin-Eli Manning combo. In two tries. Does that make Coughlin greater than Belichick?

Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls. All four for which he got his Steelers to qualify. Never lost one. Bill Walsh didn’t either, but he’s not the greatest coach of all time either.

Hey guys, it’s called the Lombardi Trophy for a reason. Not the Walsh Trophy. Not the Noll Trophy. No, not the Belichick Trophy. Not the Parcells Trophy. Not even the Landry Trophy. Or the (Jimmy) Johnson Trophy. Or the Cowher Trophy. And of course, not the Madden Trophy (he got the video game).

All time? They’re all the greatest of all time. They’re all Hall-of-Famers.

Give me Johnny U. though, and I’ll take my chances.

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