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The BellSouth Johnny Unitas Football Museum is located in the football training facility at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. BellSouth, Louisville's leading telecommunications provider, contributed $500,000 to help create the museum that celebrates the tradition of Cardinal football.
The museum, which bears the name of former U of L and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, is housed in the football complex located in the open end zone of the horseshoe-shaped stadium. The 2,000-square foot facility features a cathedral ceiling and balcony area. Exhibits include past U of L greats, a history of the sport at U of L, and a digital video theatre. A glass wall makes the museum visible to stadium visitors.
A statue of Unitas was erected as an external focal point of the museum with Frederick Kail of Lutherville, Md., commissioned to produce the sculpture. Kail's work includes a bronze portrait of Johnny Unitas as a tribute from the Baltimore Colts' fans in 1973, the first sculptural rendition of the famous "Peanuts" comic strip characters for Charles Schultz and United Features Syndicate in 1962, and many lacrosse creations.
The late Unitas had a storied history which earned him recognition by many as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.
An 18-year veteran of the NFL, Unitas played his collegiate career at the University of Louisville (1951-54), passing for 3,007 yards and 27 touchdowns. Unitas, who wore number 19 as a professional, had his No. 16 collegiate uniform retired at Louisville, the lone number retired by the Cardinals.
He began his 18-year pro career with the Baltimore Colts in 1956 and played there until joining the San Diego Chargers for his final season. His career passing figures are mind boggling. He completed 2,830 of 5,186 passes for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns during his 18-year NFL career. Among his many records is one that may stand forever: he threw a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games.
In commemorating the NFL's 25th, 50th and 75th anniversaries, Unitas was selected as the greatest quarterback of all time. A Pro Bowl participant 10 times and a three-time Most Valuable Player honoree, Unitas was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1979.