Musolf grew up in Green Bay Packers country and still makes his home in Madison, Wis., but he is the authority on Unitas' legacy. His research and record-keeping has corrected statistical errors that had been perpetuated by the Colts and the NFL. His hobby began in 1957, when he was 11 and became mesmerized by a Colts-Packers game on his uncle's television.

"I've always been fascinated my mathematics, and I began to chart games, still do," Musolf said. "I subscribed to The News American for six months a year from 1961 to '83, got it in the mail three days late. I started writing to the Colts in 1959.

"I can't stand it when a number is wrong, and I would double- and triple-check their media guide every year. I was on the phone in 1961 with Herb Wright, the PR director, discussing a stat that I felt was incorrect. He asked if I would like to talk to John, and passed the phone to him. I couldn't speak for two minutes. Finally, I told him he was the greatest football player ever. He laughed and said, 'I haven't played long enough.' "

Man about town
Willie Metzger
A native son of Baltimore, Metzger tended bar in the 1960s, when pro football players still took offseason jobs and assorted Colts stopped by Gussie's Downbeat on Eastern Avenue on their way home from Sparrows Point. Metzger later became a whiskey salesman and became more than an acquaintance of Unitas' when the quarterback was between marriages.

"Me and John and Rocky Thornton, who worked for him at the Golden Arm, palled around together," Metzger said. "I took him to meet my father at the Eaton Cafe in Highlandtown. Dad was senile. John was on crutches after his Achilles' tendon operation, and Dad asked, 'What did you do, boy, hurt your foot?' The reason John liked me is that I wasn't a football nut. We were in the bar at Vellegia's in Towson once, and this fan drove him crazy, talking about how tough it was to play football, and what a tough guy he must have been. John leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, and the guy walked away."

Football widow
Carol Hale
In the 1950s, Sundays on Drexel Road in Dundalk revolved around the gospel according to John the quarterback. Women were not allowed in the family room during Colts telecasts. Carol Hale's husband, Edwin Hale Sr., was the only guy in the neighborhood who had a station wagon, so he chauffeured Ed Magaliski, Bud Kues and the gang to Memorial Stadium.

Since he was at Yankee Stadium for "The Greatest Game Ever Played" in 1958, Hale wasn't going to let family matters keep him from the Colts' title game repeat in Baltimore on Dec. 27, 1959.

"We went to his mother's in Massachusetts for Christmas," Carol said, "then he finagled some way of getting out of taking us back home. Here I am in Lynn, Mass., snowed in with five kids and my mother-in-law. Ed had been in the Navy. He picked up a sailor hitch-hiking on the Mass Turnpike and took him all the way to Baltimore, but there was no room for his kids. He went to work for BG&E on Monday, and my mother-in-law drove me and the kids home."

Carol Hale, whose son Edwin Jr. owns Baltimore's indoor soccer team, lost her husband to a stroke in March. She now looks back fondly on those days in 1959.

"I was so hot under the collar," she said, "but as much as I think of Ed now, I'm glad he had that entertainment."

Dan Sullivan
Unitas ruled the huddle but offered all an audience. Receivers were ordered to speak up if they spotted a flaw in the secondary, and linemen were encouraged to supply suggestions. Dan Sullivan, who played 11 seasons for the Colts and started on the right side from 1967 to '72, had to alter his opinion one afternoon against the Dallas Cowboys, when his signal-caller rolled with the flow.

"John would ask if anyone needed any help," Sullivan said. "My nemesis was Jethro Pugh, who was tall, rangy and gave me all sorts of problems. In one of our games, I came out aggressive and was doing real well against him. [Left guard] Glenn Ressler was matched up against Bob Lilly, and you need help against him any day, which we tried to give. "Two series later, Pugh got by me and leveled John a couple of times. He said, 'Can't you block this guy?' He called a sucker play, what you would call a counter today. I pulled left, Jethro followed me and Glenn came over and cleaned his clock. When you least expected a play, John would call it."

Misplaced fan
Greg Cochran