|By Timothy Falk||Friday, 26 Dec 2008|
It usually takes quite a bit to get me to read a biography. It usually helps if it’s someone that I like, or care about, but it’s still sometimes quite a challenge. I’ve always liked Johnny Unitas. I don’t know why, but when I first learned of the guy, many years ago, I just ended up liking him. He became my favorite football player of all time. So it wasn’t the normal struggle I usually have to pick up a biography when I bought this book.
“You almost had to know all of us to know any of us.” This is the quote at the beginning of the first chapter of Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas, and it fits the book quite well. Not only does this book go over Unitas’ life, but it also goes in depth
to look at the people who shaped his life: Parents, teachers, coaches, and other football players, to name a few. From his birth and growing up in Pittsburgh, to his final Thanksgiving the year before he died, the book chronicles much of Unitas’ life.
The writing is very keen, and articulate, and unfolds in such a way that, even if you know how the game they’re talking about ended, you want to read to see what happened. You want to know more about these people, this game, or the situation that was happening. Unitas’ life in and of itself is pretty interesting, but it’s when the writer goes on to what was Unitas’ calling, Football, that things really pick up. There were times where it was hard to put the book down. That’s hard to say about most biographies.
Through many multitudes of interviews, Tom Callahan gathered different points of view on each and every story that was told to him, and his hard work shows. I can only imagine what it must have been like to talk to some of these people. Riotous with some of them, downright somber or dull with others, but you can tell that Callahan really wanted to write this. This wasn’t just some piece of sports writing to him. This was the sports
writing assignment. He doesn’t half ass anything in this book. Reading the recounts of people like Don Shula and Gino Marchetti, you can feel their emotion, you can almost hear them talking. It makes for one heck of a book.
So, if you like Football, or you like reading about famous people, this book about the late Johnny Unitas is for you. It tells the story of a man who came from little, and turned himself into one of the most prominent, if not the best, Quarterbacks the game has ever seen. He had a genuine passion for the game, and it shows. Who knows if we’ll ever see another…Johnny Unitas.