Skip to main content
Publish date:

The Unitas Quiz In Barry Levinson's Diner, set in the Baltimore of 1959, the young hero insists that his fiancee pass an impossibly difficult Colts trivia test before he'll agree to marry her. This became known as The Quiz.

When I wrote the movie Diner, The Quiz did not contain any Johnny
Unitas questions. At the end of 1959 every fan would have known
all of Unitas's stats. He had been around for only a couple of
years but had led the Colts to two national championships. The
legend of Johnny Unitas was just beginning. What follows is the
ultimate Unitas Quiz. --Barry Levinson

1. Unitas could not bend the first joint of the index finger of
his throwing (right) hand because of an injury he suffered while
in high school. What caused that injury?

2. As a high school senior Unitas was selected to the Pittsburgh
All-Catholic team and worked out for Notre Dame. Why didn't the
Irish offer him a scholarship?

3. After Louisville gave Unitas a scholarship, what happened that
nearly prevented him from playing there?

4. As a rookie in the Steelers' 1955 training camp, Unitas did
not take a single snap in the team's five preseason games, yet an
Associated Press photograph of him appeared in newspapers across
the country. What was Unitas doing in the photo?

5. After being cut by the Steelers, Unitas returned to what job
and played for which semipro team?

6. Unitas and his family filmed two television commercials, one
of which he called "probably the worst commercial I've ever
seen." What was the family doing in the commercial, and what was
the product?

7. Following the Greatest Game Ever Played, in 1958, Unitas was
named the first recipient of a Sport magazine award for the
outstanding player in the NFL Championship Game. What did Unitas

8. After the 1959 championship game, Unitas was photographed
during the locker room celebration waving a bottle in his hand,
prompting a barrage of letters demanding to know what he was
drinking. What was in the bottle?

9. After the Colts won their second NFL title, in 1959, Unitas
made national TV appearances on variety shows and was reported to
have agreed to star in a movie with what Hollywood legend?

10. Why, in 1964, were Unitas and his business partners sued for
$3 million?

ANSWERS: 1. Unitas accidentally shot himself in the finger while
cleaning a .38 revolver. 2. At 6 feet, 138 pounds, Unitas was
deemed too small by Notre Dame coaches. 3. Unitas flunked the
summer school entrance exam. 4. He was showing a Chinese nun how
to hold a football. 5. He worked construction, primarily as a
pile driver, and played for the Bloomfield Rams of the Greater
Pittsburgh League. 6. They were singing the jingle for Mary Sue
Easter Eggs, a Baltimore candy company. 7. He won a Chevrolet
Corvette. 8. A blowup of the photo showed he was drinking Nehi
ginger ale. 9. Jerry Lewis, but Unitas's participation in The
Bashful Bullfighter was a rumor started by a Hollywood gossip
columnist. 10. Brunswick filed suit for failure to make
installment payments on automatic pinsetters in John Unitas'
Colt Lanes, four 10-pin bowling houses.

Sources: Johnny Unitas by Ed Fitzgerald and Pro Quarterback by
Johnny Unitas and Ed Fitzgerald