Collision of Wills: Johnny Unitas, Don Shula, and the Rise of the Modern NFL

Jack Gilden. Univ. of Nebraska, $29.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4962-0691-6
Journalist Gilden expertly captures the heady days of the Baltimore Colts in an entertaining profile of Johnny Unitas and Don Shula, who were part of one of the NFL’s most exciting and winningest teams of the 1950s and ’60s. When Unitas came to Baltimore in 1956, the town celebrated him for his blue-collar qualities: he had worked in a steel mill in Pittsburgh after the Steelers cut him the previous year. The young quarterback worked tirelessly on the field and off—watching game films with his young daughter on his knee—and he quickly became the team’s best play caller and an outstanding field general. Shula was a brusque, all-business coach who tolerated no opposition to his calls or to his approach to the game. He and Unitas often clashed fiercely, but, as coach and quarterback, they led the team through several championships and to one of the most memorable games in football history: Super Bowl III in 1969 against the New York Jets (although the Jets came out victorious). Gilden’s detailed book captures the excitement of the Unitas-led Colts drives and provides a glimpse into one of pro football’s greatest player-coach relationships. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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