Unitas family at odds over movie

Published On April 8, 2013 | By Meghan Riggs

The news that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will play Johnny Unitas in an upcoming film has revealed an unfortunate rift within the family of the late Hall of Fame quarterback.

Joe Unitas, Johnny’s son by his second marriage, co-wrote the script for the movie and is delighted to have Flacco on board. But John Unitas Jr., Johnny’s son by his first marriage, and John Jr.’s son, J.C., ripped the choice of Flacco.

J.C., Johnny’s grandson, called the selection of Flacco to portray his grandfather an “embarrassing choice,” per his Facebook page, and he also went on to compare Flacco to Trent Dilfer.

“If you want a real movie, hire a real actor,” wrote J.C. on Facebook. ”My grandfather and his legacy deserves only the best, and this is not it. Has Baltimore forgotten that Trent Dilfer also won a Super Bowl while playing for Baltimore?”

According to the ClarionLedger.com, a deeper issue with the movie stems from John Unitas Jr.’s and his brother Joe’s relationship.

“It is awful. The guy’s a turd,” John Jr. said of Joe. “He never talked to me. He never talked to any of the first five children. He’s a guy that’s just making money off of my father.

“They’re trying to do anything on the coattails of my father’s name,” John said. “It’s like prostituting yourself. My father would have nothing to do with it. It makes me angry, but there’s nothing I can do about it until they slip up. If they start selling some things with Johnny Unitas on it, then I have legal recourse.”

Joe Unitas told the Baltimore Sun the projected budget for the film is $12.8 million, and he’s seeking “sponsorships” from individual fans to produce the film based on the life of Johnny Unitas, the Hall of Fame quarterback who retired from football in 1973 and died in 2002. He said part of the proceeds will go to charity.

J.C. added the following on the matter of making money off of his grandfather:

“It disgusts me that one of the sons of my grandfather would put his hands out and ask for donations to make a movie based off of a book that was mostly built off of non-factual events in my grandfather’s life. Moreover, a movie of my grandfather conceptualized by a son who never saw my grandfather play a down of football.”

The movie is titled “Unitas We Stand” and is expected to be in theaters in 2014.

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About The Author

Meghan is a junior at Boston University majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in communications. She has been an athlete her whole life and is a member of the Women’s Ice Hockey team at BU. She is also a member of BUTV10’s sports talk show, Off Sides.