Joe Unitas responds to criticism from John Unitas Jr. about Joe Flacco in film

The long-simmering feud between family members of the late Baltimore Colts quarterback legend Johnny Unitas went public this weekend after Joe Unitas told The Baltimore Sun that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco committed to portray his father in football scenes for an upcoming movie called "Unitas We Stand."

Since that news came out, and The Sun confirmed Flacco's pledged involvement in the project, Unitas' grandson, J.C. Unitas wrote on Facebook: "If you want a real movie, hire a real actor. 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?"

Then John Unitas Jr. was highly critical of Flacco and Joe Unitas in an interview with USA Today Sports, where he issued insulting remarks about both men.

Joe Unitas is Unitas' son from a second marriage. And John Unitas Jr. is Johnny Unitas' oldest son from Unitas' first marriage. And they don't get along, obviously.

Joe Unitas wrote the following letter to The Sun about the situation:

To whom it may concern:

Yesterday, in the wake of all the positive news about Joe Flacco’s involvement with our movie Unitas We Stand, John Unitas Jr, and his son JC Unitas chose to take a negative view on our decision to have Joe play my dad in the scenes of the ’58 championship game, and of the project itself.

First I’d like to apologize to Joe, his family, agent, and the Ravens organization for any embarrassment these comments may have caused. Joe is a respectable man, a great player, and very similar to my Dad in many ways.  The Ravens organization is top notch and I respect them very much. Both deserve better.

These disparaging remarks come from two places, ignorance of the facts, and passion for a Father and Grandfather.

Because of our common respect for Dad I’m willing to overlook any negative comments made by any member of my family and to put aside petty issues from the past.  I would more than welcome an open discussion about Unitas We Stand and any potential involvement they might want to have. At the end of the day this movie is not about me riding the coattails of my father.  It’s about Dad...the challenges he faced, and unbelievable hardships he had to overcome along the way to achieving his goal of becoming a professional football player. It’s my hope that this movie will serve as a reminder to older generations, and inspire younger ones, that with hard work and dedication anything is possible. This is a story that, in my opinion, captures the real struggle of my Dad to become one of the greatest players of all time.  I’m grateful that Tom Callahan  has entrusted his book to me and my team to make a great movie that’s much bigger than football…it’s a true story about faith, determination, and the triumph of the human spirit. My Dad deserves the best and that’s why we are making this movie.

Joe Unitas

awilson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RavensInsider