Frank Deford wrote his best article ever when he captured the spirit of professional football—Johnny Unitas (The Best There Ever Was, Sept. 23). Even the occasionally snowy picture on our old black-and-white TV was good enough to see the steel in Unitas's eyes and the determination in his every action. We never expected him to lose.
JAMES WEDDING, Fordsville, Ky
Today's players, who spend five minutes celebrating a tackle, should be required to watch film of Johnny U, who would engineer a last-minute touchdown and calmly trot to the sideline with no change in demeanor.
CHARLES WALLACE, Chicago
It came as quite a revelation when my older brother told me that the symbol on the sides of the Colts' helmets was a horseshoe and not a U for Unitas.
DOUG HENNINGER, Denver
Steve Rushin (AIR AND SPACE, Sept. 23) made a small but significant error in his essay about the eternal images of John on NFL Films. Colts home games began at 2 p.m., not 1 p.m., until the early '80s, due to the influence of the large number of churches in our neighborhood surrounding Memorial Stadium. This allowed churchgoers to fulfill two holy obligations on one day: go to church and be in their seats in time for kickoff. Godspeed, John Unitas.
WILLIAM R. CALTRIDER JR., Baltimore
Your six statistical gauges in the U Ratings (Sept. 23) do not fully or accurately measure a quarterback's greatness. The multidimensional running and passing skills of Roger Staubach, Joe Montana and other QB's were not considered, as they should have been. And completion percentage is not a barometer for greatness, because winning quarterbacks only want a win and don't hesitate to throw passes away to avoid costly sacks. The true measuring stick should be victories. I saw Unitas, and he was incredible. But I also saw Montana and Staubach, who won with their mobility and their arms.
GARRICK CASE, Mount Dora, Fla.
Although I don't dispute that Unitas was one of the top three quarterbacks ever to play the game, I do find fault with the way some of the other great quarterbacks were rated. Brett Favre rated 19 for accuracy? Then why did his completion percentage of 60.6 put him fifth in your rating system? John Elway rated sixth for the two-minute drill? Ask the Cleveland Browns how he performed in the two-minute drill.
ERIC BURNS, Menomonie, Wis.
Brian Urlacher and Michael Vick (The Matchup, Sept. 23) represent the continuous evolution of football, players so accomplished that they make so-called meaningless games, like the Falcons against the Bears, interesting to every football fan. This new wave of players, along with a drug-testing plan that isn't a total embarrassment, is why football has blown by baseball as the national pastime.
ERIC RELKIN, New York City
I noticed attendance at the game that included the first Tinkers to Evers to Chance double play was 260 (SCORECARD, Sept. 23)! Imagine what the world would have missed if de facto commissioner Ban Johnson had contracted the Cubbies.
ANDY SHER, Montreal
The Cleveland Browns' Otto Graham is the only quarterback to take his team to 10 straight league championships—every year he played—winning seven of them. He was all-league for nine of those years; he passed for 23,584 yards and 174 touchdowns; he made an interception to secure an All-America Football Conference title; in 1953 he continued to play against the 49ers after getting 15 stitches in his mouth; and he ran for three touchdowns and passed for three more in the NFL Championship Game against the Lions in '54. He did all this after playing a year of professional basketball and serving in the Navy during WWII. That, my friends, is the greatest quarterback who ever played the game.
WILLIAM R. HONEY, Brunswick, Ohio
As the son of Otto Graham, I am obviously biased when it comes to my dad's place in sport history. Everyone in the football community mourns the passing of Johnny Unitas and holds dear what he meant to the game. Unitas and my dad were great friends. In 1956, when Otto had just retired from the NFL after leading the Browns to another title, Dad got a call from Weeb Ewbank, a former Cleveland assistant, then head coach of the Baltimore Colts. Weeb said he had a raw kid in camp who had been playing semipro ball and had great potential but needed work. Weeb asked Otto if he would come down to Baltimore and work with the kid. Otto did just that and stayed for two weeks. The kid was Johnny U.
DUEY GRAHAM, Waldoboro, Maine