Johnny Unitas’ 1956 Baltimore Colts Rookie Contract

Drafted by his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers with the 102nd pick in the 1955 NFL Draft, Johnny Unitas never made it to the preseason with his beloved team. 

After a year of semi-pro football, he received a tryout from the Baltimore Colts prior to the 1956 season. This one-year, $7,000 contract was fully UN-guaranteed. He earned 75% of his check in weekly $437.50 increments–basically per game base salaries. No play, no pay. The remaining $1,750 would be paid if Unitas made it to the end of the season. 

As time told, Unitas would play 17 of his 18 NFL seasons with the franchise, finishing his career with a Super Bowl, two NFL Championships, 10 Pro Bowls and three MVP awards. He threw for 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns and was inducted into the @ProFootballHOF in 1979. 

(SI – MMQB – NFL95)

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