We are now seeing an announcement with great fanfare concerning the move of Tom Brady to Tampa Bay (“Tom Brady thanks Patriots fans and says ‘my football journey will take place elsewhere,'” March 17). He is being extolled as the greatest quarterback ever to play in the NFL, and possibly its greatest player period. I am troubled by the deafening silence of Baltimore’s sportscasters on this issue and, truthfully, am ashamed of Baltimore area football fans for not taking it up. In my humble opinion, although Tom Brady is doubtless a great player, possibly the best quarterback of all of the quarterbacks playing in the NFL at this time, even some of the recently retired greats such as Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, bestowing upon him the title of “greatest” is simply wrong.
Current quarterbacks in the NFL are protected more than ever. A mere push could result in a roughing the passer penalty. Similarly, potential receivers are also protected more because of the 5-yard bump-and-run rule. When John Unitas played, the quarterbacks were not babied or over-protected as they are today. Actually, they were fair game for opposing defensive players. Do any of the current sportscasters recall “Johnny U” playing with broken ribs protected by a cumbersome aluminum “girdle?" And then there were his receivers who were not protected after five yards and were similarly “fair game” for molestation by defensive players over their entire route.
Many of John’s records were set many years ago, but were just recently broken by these overly-protected quarterbacks who are also playing longer seasons with more games to set or break his records. In my opinion, if John was at his peak and playing under today’s rules, he would own every record in the book! He had what I call the three “H’s." He had the head (knowledge of the game), heart (the stamina and determination to play with broken ribs) and hands (those talented hands that so accurately controlled the path of the ball).
I recall when the NFL introduced the famous “zone defense" that was supposed to be the end of the passing game. It was John Unitas who showed how to dissect and defeat the zone with the skill of a surgeon. I will admit that Tom Brady is great but not the greatest. That title belongs to John Constantine “Johnny U” Unitas, Baltimore’s own. Art Rooney, owner of the much-hated Pittsburgh Steelers, paid John the greatest compliment when he acknowledged that cutting him from the team’s roster was his biggest mistake. The Steelers let John go to Baltimore while they kept Ted Marchibroda as their quarterback. Shame on you local sportscasters for not standing up for one of Baltimore’s own, John Constantine Unitas, the greatest quarterback ever to have played in the NFL.
Bob Di Stefano, Abingdon
Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.