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Baltimore Sports Then and Now



Who is Baltimore’s Greatest Athlete of All-Time? 5

Posted on September 30, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Many consider Johnny Unitas to be the greatest athlete in Baltimore sports history.

Many consider Johnny Unitas to be the greatest athlete in Baltimore sports history.

Measuring greatness is always a tough challenge. While athletes grow in size, stature and athletic ability, does it mean the athletes of today are greater than those of 30 years ago and were those athletes better than the stars of the 1940s and 1950s?

Through the years, Baltimore has been blessed with many great stars.

From the 1950s through the 1980s, Memorial Stadium was home to some of the greatest athletes in Baltimore sports history. Then since the Orioles moved to Camden Yards and the ravens came to town, there have been more superstars to call the city home

But who is the greatest of the greats?
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Video is Worth a Thousand Words: Johnny Unitas 9

Posted on September 26, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Johnny Unitas was the best quarterback to ever play in Baltimore.

Johnny Unitas was the best quarterback to ever play in Baltimore.

In a new Baltimore Sports Then and Now regular feature, we are going to periodically scan YouTube and share some of the best videos and slideshows that highlight the best players and moments from the present and past in Baltimore sports.

Fittingly, our first featured athlete is the greatest quarterback in Baltimore sports history and arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time: Johnny Unitas.

So, kick back and enjoy some great memories of the special career of Johnny U.

Remembering Johnny Unitas

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Classic Rewind: 1968 Browns at Colts 4

Posted on September 24, 2009 by Dean Hybl

Each week during the 2009 NFL season, Sports Then and Now will pick one NFL matchup and look through the history books to find an intriguing past meeting between the two teams. We will recap the game and hopefully help reintroduce (or introduce for you younger readers) you to some of the greats (and in some cases not so greats) from the history of professional football.

Thanks to the decision in 1995 by Art Modell to move the beloved Cleveland Browns to Baltimore a decade after the Colts left in the middle of the night for Indianapolis, Cleveland and Baltimore are forever linked and more than a decade later there is still resentment and anger among some long-time Cleveland fans.

This week as the Baltimore Ravens and current Cleveland Browns are preparing to do battle, we look at a game between the two predecessor franchises in those two cities. The Baltimore Colts and original Cleveland Browns had some classic confrontations during the 1950s and 1960s. But their regular season meeting during the 1968 season is one of the most noteworthy.

The Matchup: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Colts

Series Record: Between 1956 and 1983 the Browns and Colts met 15 times with Cleveland holding a 10-5 series advantage, including wins in their final five meetings. The two teams met in the playoffs three times, with Baltimore holding a 2-1 edge. However, Cleveland defeated the Colts 27-0 to win the 1964 NFL Championship. There were some other memorable moments in the series including a 38-31 Cleveland victory in 1959 in which Jim Brown rushed for five touchdowns and Johnny Unitas passed for four scores. In 1978, veteran running back Calvin Hill caught three touchdown passes to lift the Browns to a 45-24 victory. Two years later, Bert Jones led the Colts on a furious fourth quarter comeback that fell just short in a 28-27 Cleveland victory.

However, of all the meetings, the 1968 matchup is the most interesting and worthy of a Classic Rewind.

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Lenny Moore 8

Posted on September 06, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Lenny-Moore-Baltimore-Colts-2

Lenny Moore

In preparation for the start of the NFL season, we recognize as the Baltimore Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Week one of the most exciting players ever to call the city of Baltimore home.

For 12 seasons with the Baltimore Colts, Lenny Moore was one of the most versatile and explosive players in the game.

A double threat as both a runner and receiver, Moore was a perfect offensive compliment to quarterback Johnny Unitas and receiver Raymond Berry.
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Is Joe Flacco Ready To Take The Next Step? 1

Posted on August 26, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Joe Flacco seems ready to take the next step toward greatness in 2009.

Joe Flacco seems ready to take the next step toward greatness in 2009.

Joe Flacco had more playoff success as a rookie than any other starting quarterback in NFL history. However, as he enters his second year, the question is whether Flacco can take the next step and become one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.

If the first two preseason games are any indication, Flacco believes that he is ready to be more than simply the “serviceable rookie” from a year ago and instead make the passing game a legitimate offensive option for the Ravens.

In the Ravens’ nationally televised game against the Jets, Flacco was solid on the field (8 for 18, 120 yards), but seemed especially confident when being interviewed by ESPN’s Michelle Tafoya. Flacco acted and sounded like a quarterback ready to make a splash in 2009.

Throughout NFL history, how a quarterback performs in his second year as a starter often provides great insight into whether he will develop into a superstar or simply be a “serviceable” quarterback.

After moving from semipro football to the starting lineup for the Colts in 1956, Johnny Unitas made it clear in his second season that he was destined for greatness. He made his first Pro Bowl appearance and passed for 2,550 yards and 24 touchdowns in just 12 games.

Both Joe Montana with the San Francisco 49ers in 1981 and Ben Rothlisberger with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005 culminated their second season as a starter with a Super Bowl victory.

Dan Marino fell one victory short of Super Bowl success during his second year under center for the Miami Dolphins in 1984, but his record-setting season of 5,084 yards and 48 touchdown passes went unmatched for 20 years.

The man who eclipsed Marino’s touchdown mark, Peyton Manning, took the Indianapolis Colts from a 3-13 record during his rookie season to a 13-3 mark the following season. He made his first Pro Bowl appearance while completing 62.1% of his passes for 4,135 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Because the Ravens had the fourth best running game in the league a year ago, Flacco didn’t have to take matters into his own hands very often as a rookie. Statistically, he was solid with a 60% completion percentage, 2,971 yards, 14 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions while starting every game.

Watch for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to give Flacco more chances to shine in 2009. With a veteran receiving unit that includes Derek Mason, Mark Clayton, Kelley Washington and Todd Heap, Flacco has plenty of receiving options and seems poised to make his move towards greatness this season.

How Joe Willie Namath Saved Football from Itself and Changed a Nation Forever 1

Posted on July 25, 2009 by L.J. Burgess
Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath each personified an era in NFL history.

Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath each personified an era in Pro Football history.

I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow…’Cause I Get Better Looking Every Day“…words to live by.

I was a 10-year-old farm boy when Joe Namath signed the biggest contract in pro football history.

The war between the AFL and NFL had reached its apex, and the news of Namath’s choosing the upstart AFL traveled far and wide—even to our local weekly, the little ol’ “Reidsville Review” down in Carolina.

At that point in my life, my knowledge of professional football was gleaned from family gatherings around a huge woodstove on Sundays and an occasional peek at a snowy black and white TV that the men huddled around after church…as long as I was quiet.

Out of those bull sessions, I surmised that Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts were, and always would be, the greatest group of athletes in the history of the game…forever, 1958′s “Greatest Game Ever Played” being the benchmark against all who would challenge their superiority.

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