Orioles great Brooks Robinson, who played third base in Baltimore from 1955 to 1977, said last night that John Unitas took himself and the game in stride.
"He was simply the most unassuming guy I knew, and he had every right to be big-headed. If he played today, he'd be even greater because quarterbacks don't take the beating today that he took. I mean they beat him to death. I used to sit up in the stands on the third base side for football games and watched what he could do with a football.
Robinson also said that the era in which he and Unitas played was unique.
"There will never be another era like ours simply because we were everywhere in Baltimore all the time. One night we were in Dundalk, the next in Reisterstown or anywhere else. John and I were together 16 or 17 times a year."
Up in the air
Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, whose Washington Redskins teams competed against John Unitas and his Colts between 1964 and 1972, said he remembered standing with Unitas on a balcony of a fifth-floor hotel in Hawaii as part of a quarterbacks trip.
Below them, the Houston Oilers' Dan Pastorini was tossing around a football with another quarterback.
When Pastorini saw the two men standing on the balcony, he began firing the ball in their direction, nearly hitting the balcony with every throw.
"I said, 'I can't believe the strength in this kid's arm. Can you, John?' " Jurgensen said. "John said, 'No, but his receivers are on the third floor.' "
Donovan: 'He showed us'
Art Donovan, who played with Unitas from 1956 to 1962, remembered the first time he saw his teammate.
Donovan was getting his feet massaged on the trainer's table, while Unitas was fitted with an ice pack to relieve bursitis in his right shoulder.
"He was always on the training table," Donovan said. "We were saying, 'He's our quarterback? How can he make the team if he can't throw the ball?' He showed us."
Berry: Mental toughness
Like Unitas, Raymond Berry entered the NFL in 1955, but their paths didn't cross until Unitas was signed by the Colts as a free agent in 1956.
Berry, who had been on the cusp of being released by the Colts, was too involved in the playbook to study Unitas, but got a glimpse into the quarterback's character when his first completed pass was an interception returned for a touchdown by Chicago Bears defensive back J.C. Caroline in 1956.
"His reaction to that could've told you a lot about him," Berry recalled. "You could hit him with a two-by-four, and he'd still go about his business."
On 'greatest game'