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Johnny U


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About the Author

Tom Callahan, a former senior writer at Time magazine and sports columnist at the Washington Post, is a recipient of the National Headliner Award. He has covered three decades of everything in major-league sports, from Sarajevo to Zaire, including hundreds of pro football games and numerous Super Bowls. Among his many Time cover subjects are San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana and Chicago running back Walter Payton. Callahan is the author of three other books, the most recent being The Bases Were Loaded (And So Was I).


In a book that is "as much about a certain time as a single player," journalist Callahan (In Search of Tiger) offers not only a biography of one of professional football's early legends but also a look at the nature of the sport in his day. He charts the career path of Unitas from an undersized and unheralded Pennsylvania quarterback prospect to his glory days leading the Baltimore Colts to three championships from 1958 to 1972. In narrating Unitas's story of tryouts, cuts, timely phone calls and chance scouting encounters, Callahan reveals as much about Unitas's character and ambition as he does about the machinations of a talent system very different from today's. He also relies heavily on extended comments from a range of Unitas's coaches, friends and fellow players: as teammate Raymond Berry notes, Unitas "had a certain blend of humility and self-confidence that was unusual, to say the least." Quotes like this help the book feel more like listening to a group of old-guard players reminiscing around the back table than reading a strictly structured biography. The result is light, conversational and bound to fascinate anyone interested in Unitas or the hardscrabble, blue-collar era of football he dominated. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Commonly considered one of the top three quarterbacks in NFL history, Johnny Unitas (1933-2002) had a huge impact on not only his sport but also popular culture. In fact, this is the second major biography of the man in the past two years, following Lou Sahadi's Johnny Unitas: America's Quarterback. Callahan (In Search of Tiger: A Journey Through Golf with Tiger Woods) has written a superior work, providing a telling blue-collar context for this uniquely American character who grew up in Pittsburgh and starred in Baltimore. Through original interviews with Unitas and his family members, friends, teammates, and coaches, Callahan imparts a vivid view of Unitas, the Baltimore Colts, and the changing world of the NFL in the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies. This book, filled with fresh, colorful, and enlightening anecdotes, is thoroughly researched and brilliantly written, as good a biography of a sports figure as there is. A terrific read, it provides insight into a scrupulously honest and honorable private man who lived his life in a very public arena and stayed true to a personal code. Highly recommended for all libraries.-John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"If there were a Mount Rushmore of pro football, the craggy face of Unitas would be one of the four figures on it. Tom Callahan is the perfect writer to tell the real story of Johnny U, and he does it with deep reporting and clear writing, cracking a myth etched in stone and bringing back to vivid life the real man." --David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi

"I'll be honest. I've never read a football book written by somebody else that made me wish my own name was on it--until now. Johnny U is a classic." --Dan Jenkins, author of Semi-Tough "Magnificent . . . Tom Callahan takes us through legendary times, bringing to life the history of professional football and the great players who were the essence of gridiron competition." --Bill Walsh, member, NFL Hall of Fame; two-time NFL Coach of the Year "A wonderfully human portrait of a legendary sportsman . . . takes us back to a team, a town, and a time that should never be forgotten." --Jeffrey Marx, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Season of Life "As elegant, tough, tender, and unforgettable as Johnny U himself . . . This is Hall of Fame stuff." --Dave Kindred, author of Sound and Fury "As a young dyed-in-the-wool Baltimore Colts fan, I watched Johnny U ascend from a mere mortal to a football god. Tom Callahan gives us a full-textured account, as exciting as sudden-death overtime." --Barry Levinson, writer and director of Diner "Destined to be acknowledged a classic . . . By page forty you're saying to yourself, 'I don't want this to end.'" --Dick Stockton, longtime broadcaster, Fox Sports

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