Johnny U returns to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium

He’s back.

The Johnny Unitas statue has returned to its rightful home following a 10-month hiatus from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, moving from the north end zone to a perch on the party deck atop the south end zone.

The base of the Johnny Unitas statue will soon be encased in granite and will include the names of original donors to the statue project.

A temporary base is currently in place for the statue, displaying the original four base plaques.  A new granite base for the statue is still in production and will be added later. The new base will contain the fan names and inscriptions that were engraved on the brick pavers that surrounded the statue in its former position.

“We asked our fans for input into options on where we would relocate this wonderful representation of one of the greatest football players in history,” said Tom Jurich, UofL vice president and director of athletics.  “This placement overlooking the field will continue to celebrate Johnny Unitas’ legacy and will also grant our fans better viewing options.”

The bronze statue, which stands seven feet tall and weighs 1,000 pounds, was unveiled in September 1998 when the stadium opened, and Unitas was present for the event.  Frederick Kail of Lutherville, Md., produced the sculpture.

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 No. 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. He completed 2,830 of 5,186 passes for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns during his NFL career. He threw a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games.

 

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.