Controversy Erupts as Flacco Chosen for Unitas Movie

Dale Perth | Updated Apr 08, 2013


By now you probably know Joe Flacco is the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens, who won Super Bowl XLVII in February. If you’re aware of that, you definitely know Flacco was named MVP for his performance in that game. But did you know Flacco is also an actor now? He has been chosen to portray Johnny Unitas in a biographical film about the Baltimore Colts great, and that news has thrown gasoline on a family feud which has simmered for decades.

Joe Unitas, a product of the legendary quarterback’s second marriage, wants to produce a biopic based on a book by Tom Callahan. Flacco has agreed to play Unitas in the final scenes of the film, titled “Unitas We Stand” and planned for release in 2014. John Unitas Jr., a child from Unitas’ first marriage, has not hidden his disgust for the project — “this is a joke” — or the choice of Flacco, whom John Jr. describes as a “goofball.”

John Jr.‘s son, a former Villanova quarterback, took to Facebook to air his views. “If you want a real movie, hire a real actor,” wrote J.C. Unitas. “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?”

Joe Unitas has projected a budget of $12.8 million for the movie, and is looking for sponsorships from fans. Part of the proceeds from the film have been promised to go to charity. “Obviously, the Baltimore ties are very important to me,” Joe Unitas told the Baltimore Sun. “A lot of the way Joe plays and his demeanor reminds me a lot of my dad. He’s not a rah-rah guy. He throws a touchdown and maybe there’s a little fist pump. … (Flacco) does things the right way and is a good role model for kids and he gets what hard work is and does everything he can for the team. There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between Joe and my dad.”

J.C. Unitas is not impressed with the way Joe Unitas is approaching the project. “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,” J.C. wrote.

“Moreover, a movie of my grandfather conceptualized by a son who never saw my grandfather play a down of football. … The Unitas family is a family that never asked for handouts, although it appears there is a hand out, shaking a proverbial soup can for money to fund a movie.”

Johnny Unitas is known as the “Golden Arm,” was named the NFL’s MVP three times (1959, 1964 and 1967) and is consistently listed as one of the greatest players of all time. Too bad his legacy is being tarnished by a public family spat.