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Baltimore Colts legend Johnny Unitas died on Sept. 11, 2002.
But if he was still with us, his son, Chad Unitas, believes he would be a big Joe Flacco fan.
Chad even sees an “eerie” similarity between the two quarterbacks’ personalities.
Chad works in the Ravens corporate sales department. Last year, he stopped Flacco in the hallway and told him, “My Dad would have really enjoyed watching you play.”
Nobody is saying Flacco is Unitas.
But the way he plays the game, his personality, and even the way he’s currently handling his contract, sparks memories of the great Johnny U.
“He reminds me of Dad,” Chad said.
This came up when I was just chatting with Chad over lunch a week or so ago. It wasn’t that he was being a Ravens homer, or trying to pump up Flacco. It’s really how he’s felt, and for some time.
Flacco, as you can imagine, was pretty flattered by the whole thing.
“I wish Johnny was still around so I could meet him and talk to him,” Flacco said. “It’s definitely pretty cool. I mean he’s one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game and from everything you hear around town he was a great guy.”
Chad’s father was a no-nonsense, no-frills kind of quarterback. He cared about one thing and one thing only: winning. And he did a lot of it.
Flacco takes his fair share of criticism from media and fans. But something nobody can argue is that he wins. Flacco’s 44 regular-season victories are the most ever by a starting quarterback in his first four years in the NFL.
“Dad’s whole thing is he never cared about stats. The only stat he cared about was whether they won the game,” Chad said. “That’s the way Joe seems too. He’s a class act.”
It’s not only their approach that is similar, but the way they carry themselves too.
Chad remembers one Colts game when his father threw a deep pass and started walking off the field before it was even caught. He knew it was going to be a touchdown.
In an interview afterwards, Johnny U said, “Well, I know I put it in the right place. It was up to the wide receiver to do his job. My job was done.”
Chad sees that attitude in Flacco. It’s not about self-glorification. It’s not about yelling at teammates, or showing a ton of emotion after a touchdown or interception.
It’s about the job at hand.
“[My dad] would have liked the way Joe handles himself,” Unitas said. “Dad never was a ‘rah-rah’ quarterback.
“It seems the way Joe is too. He knows what he’s supposed to do. He doesn’t need to throw for 500 yards a game, he doesn’t have to have four or five touchdowns a game. He knows how to manage the game, how to control the game. He can do it if he needs to, but it’s not like he has that ego.”
Who wants to start the Flacco in black high-tops campaign?