It was reported in the Sun over the weekend that Joe Unitas, the son of the Baltimore icon John (by his second marriage), will produce a film on his late father entitled “Unitas We Stand” and that current Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has agreed to portray Unitas playing football in the final scenes depicting the Colts’ 1958 championship game victory.
On first blush, you have to be somewhat amused by the choice. Flacco looks nothing like Unitas. He’s a good 4-5” taller, probably 40 pounds heavier, the hair color is wrong, and he’s missing that trademark crew cut. But it appears that Joe is only going to portray the Baltimore legend on the field at the end of the Greatest Football Game Ever Played.
That said, both quarterbacks do share the same emotional detachment when playing football. Joe Flacco (sometimes nicknamed Joe Cool) has been unfairly criticized for being unemotional during the game and solitary on the sidelines. But Joe showed plenty of emotion during the playoff run, certainly more than I ever saw out of Number 19 in any game he played. On two plays that come to my immediate memory, the handoff to Alan Ameche in the ’58 championship game and his final pass as a Baltimore Colt to Eddie Hinton in 1972, John walked off the field like he was taking a walk around the block.
John had ice in his veins.
Similarities and differences between the two quarterbacks aside, the proposed movie is not going over well with all members of the Unitas family.
In an interview with USA Today, John Unitas Jr., Johnny’s first son by his first marriage, torched the whole idea and trashed his half-brother as “a turd,” Flacco as a “goofball,” and threatened a lawsuit if the project uses the Unitas name.
Not to be outdone, his son, J.C. Unitas, piled on by calling Flacco an “embarrassing choice” to play his late grandfather. The former Villanova quarterback, now enrolled at the University of Tampa, added fuel to the fire by stating that “my grandfather and his legacy deserve only the best, and this is not it. Has Baltimore forgotten that Trent Dilfer also won a Super Bowl while playing for Baltimore?”
Wow. Taking a shot at two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in one sentence. Those are pretty dismissive comments from someone who is not exactly on the radar of pro football scouts!
His father, Unitas Jr., added in the same article, “If you want a quarterback, go with Peyton Manning. My father was just like that. This is a joke.”
There is a ton of bile in those statements. They’re nasty, personal, and inconsiderate.
And they don’t say very much of Joe Flacco as a quarterback.
How else can Baltimore football fans view this ugly spat between half-brothers of the Johnny Unitas family than as nothing other than an embarrassing airing of family laundry?
Though this nasty family feud that has been going on for years has now turned into a tawdry national mess, it does nothing to tarnish the memory of one of the greatest quarterbacks to play professional football.