The issue here is that a multi-faceted issue within a broken family is now a very public feud that has seen one of Baltimore’s more popular sports figures enter as an unwilling (or at best semi-willing) pawn.
I would never attempt to tell John Unitas Jr., Joe Unitas, J.C. Unitas or anyone else in the Unitas family how they should feel about any member of their family. Similarly, I would expect that none of the members of the Unitas family would attempt to offer opinions about any of the relationships I have with members of my own family.
That said, it is absolutely inexcusable for the caretakers of the legacy of one of this city’s most beloved figures to use include Flacco in the battle.
I have spoken to Joe Unitas about the film project both on-air at WNST.net and off-air in private conversations. If I had any reason to believe he reached out to Flacco for involvement in order to purposely anger the rest of the Unitas children, I would be more than willing to use this space to make it known I believe such action would be detestable. I instead believe Joe Unitas felt Flacco was a perfect fit for the same reasons my personal reaction was overwhelmingly positive.
There is an incredible Baltimore factor in this, as Flacco’s participation shows his willingness to accept his own role as caretaker of a Baltimore quarterbacking legacy. Any quarterback could handle the filming of a few scenes (depicting the 1958 NFL Championship Game-known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played”), but none are more fitting than Flacco. A quarterback whose ability and demeanor are representative of Unitas even if they are not particularly similar physically.
I’ll say instead what I’d be happy to tell John Jr. and J.C. (a former Villanova quarterback) in personal conversations as well. Their issues with Joe Unitas, the use of Johnny Unitas’ likeness and image or the film project whatsoever should NEVER lead to negative commentary about Joe Flacco. It’s unfair to the quarterback, but it’s vastly more unfair to the many football fans in Baltimore who care deeply about both their father/grandfather and the current elite quarterback in Charm City.
I’d like to think (based on what we knew of him in the later years of his life) that if Johnny U hadn’t left us over a decade ago, he’d be honored to know the man who lead this city to their fifth NFL title would be the one portraying him in football scenes in a movie about his life.
But even if I’m off base, I’d like to think that the people responsible for overseeing the legacy of the man voted “King of Baltimore Sports” five years ago by Baltimore sports fans would be much more responsible in their comments about a man who might well take that title away in the coming years.
I also hope that somehow, some way, the Unitas family feud won’t continue to linger over the legacy of one of our city’s most iconic figures.