Y. A. Tittle

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Y.A. Tittle
refer to caption
Tittle on a 1955 Bowman Card
No. 63, 14
Position: Quarterback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1926-10-24) October 24, 1926 (age 89)
Place of birth: Marshall, Texas
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 192 lb (87 kg)
Career information
High school: Marshall (TX)
College: LSU
NFL draft: 1948 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6
Career history
Career highlights and awards
NFL records
Career NFL statistics
TDINT: 242–248
Yards: 33,070
Passer rating: 74.3
Player stats at NFL.com

Yelberton Abraham Tittle (born October 24, 1926), better known as Y. A. Tittle, is a former American football quarterback who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) and All-America Football Conference (AAFC) for the Baltimore Colts, San Francisco 49ers, and the New York Giants. He played college football at Louisiana State University for the LSU Tigers. A four-time NFL Most Valuable Player, seven-time Pro Bowler, and four-time first-team All-Pro, Tittle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

Early years and college career[edit]

Born and raised in Marshall, Texas, Tittle played high school football at Marshall High School. He attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and played quarterback for the LSU Tigers. As a junior, Tittle was named the MVP of the legendary 1947 Cotton Bowl, a scoreless tie in an ice storm between LSU and Arkansas.[1]

Professional career[edit]

Tittle was the sixth overall selection of the 1948 NFL Draft, taken by the Detroit Lions.[2] He was the second quarterback drafted, following Bobby Layne of Texas. Tittle began his career with the Baltimore Colts of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1948; the Colts joined the NFL in 1950, but became defunct after that season.

Tittle was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1951 NFL Draft after the Baltimore Colts folded and stayed for ten seasons. In 1951 and 1952, Frankie Albert also played quarterback extensively, and then from 1957 through 1960, John Brodie took time on the field away from Tittle.

In mid-August 1961, the 49ers traded the 34-year-old Tittle to the New York Giants for second-year guard Lou Cordileone.[3] (Cordileone, the 12th overall pick in the 1960 NFL Draft, was quoted as reacting "Me, even up for Y.A. Tittle? You're kidding,"[4] and later said angrily that the Giants traded him for "a 42-year-old quarterback."[5]) Tittle went on to lead the Giants to three straight Eastern Division titles, part of a team that featured such great players as Del Shofner, Frank Gifford, Jimmy Patton, Rosey Brown, Andy Robustelli, and Sam Huff. Tittle threw seven touchdown passes on October 28, 1962, in a 49–34 win over the Washington Redskins.[6] In 1963, he set what was then an NFL record by throwing 36 touchdown passes.[7] All told, Tittle threw a grand total of 86 touchdown passes from 1961 to 1963.

The following year in 1964, Tittle's final season, the Giants went 2–10–2 (.214), the worst record in the 14-team league.[8] Tittle's performance fell from 36 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 1963 to 10 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in 1964. He retired after the season at age 39, jokingly saying rookie quarterback Gary Wood not only "took my job away, but started to ask permission to date my daughter."[9]

Tittle was the first professional football player featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on its fifteenth issue dated November 22, 1954.[10] His second cover was with the Giants in November 1961,[11] and he was on the season preview issue of 1964, a two-page fold-out photo from the 1963 title game.[12][13] Following his retirement, Tittle was on a fourth SI cover in August 1965.[14]

Legacy[edit]

During Tittle's Hall of Fame career he never won an NFL championship.[15] The Giants, with Tittle, lost three consecutive title games in 1961, 1962 and 1963. In the 1963 NFL Championship Game, Tittle hurt his leg while the Giants lost to the Chicago Bears 14–10. In a 17-year career from 1948 through 1964, Tittle passed for 33,070 yards and 242 touchdowns, and four times received the NFL Most Valuable Player Award: in 1957 and 1962 from the UPI;[16] in 1961 by the NEA;[17] and in 1963 by the AP and NEA.[18][17] He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.[19]

Tittle threw seven touchdown passes on October 28, 1962, which tied the all-time record for passing touchdowns in a single game set by Sid Luckman (1943) and followed by Adrian Burk (1954)[20] and George Blanda (1961, AFL). The feat was later equaled by Joe Kapp (1969), Peyton Manning (2013), Nick Foles (2013) and Drew Brees (2015).[21] Tittle, Manning, and Foles did it without an interception. Tittle was the first player in NFL history to throw 30 or more touchdown passes in consecutive seasons. His 36 touchdown passes in 1963 set a record which stood for over two decades, surpassed by Dan Marino in 1984.[22]

Famous photo[edit]

A photo of a dazed Tittle in the end zone taken by Morris Berman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on September 20, 1964, is regarded among the most iconic images in the history of American sports and journalism.[23] Tittle, in his 17th and final season, was photographed helmet-less, bloodied and kneeling immediately after having been knocked to the ground by John Baker of the Pittsburgh Steelers and throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown at the old Pitt Stadium. He suffered a concussion and cracked sternum on the play, but played the rest of the season.[24]

Post-Gazette editors at first declined to run the photo, looking for "action shots" instead, but Berman entered the image into contests where it took on a life of its own, winning a National Headliner Award.[23] The photo was published in the Oct 2, 1964 issue of Life Magazine.[25] It is regarded as having changed the way that photographers look at sports, having shown the power of capturing a moment of reaction. A copy now hangs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[26]

After at first having failed to see the appeal of the image, Tittle eventually grew to embrace it, putting it on the back cover of his 2009 autobiography. "That was the end of the road", he told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. "It was the end of my dream. It was over."[24]

Pittsburgh player John Baker, who hit Tittle right before the picture was taken, ran for sheriff in his native Wake County, North Carolina in 1978, and used the photo as a campaign tool. He was elected and went on to serve for 25 years.[27]

Miller Beer used the photo in an ad relaunching its "Miller High Life" brand in 2007–08.[28]

Unusual style[edit]

Tittle threw the ball from a sidearm, almost underhand position, something novel at those times, though it may have been common practice in earlier decades. In fact, it was this seemingly underhand style that drew the curiosity and admiration of many fans. In tandem with his baldness, he made for a very striking personality.[citation needed]

Post-retirement[edit]

During his NFL career, Tittle worked as an insurance salesman in the off-season and after retiring, founded his own company Y. A. Tittle Insurance & Financial Services (now operated by his son).[29] In 1975 Tittle renewed an Intel policy on credit for a plant in Penang, Malaysia that produced more than half of its DRAM shortly before the plant burned to the ground. Company officials had forgotten to renew and Tittle assumed that Intel was good for the premiums. Although the plant was wrought with faulty wiring, claims adjusters were told that there were communist insurgents in the area and that locals theorized that the fire resulted from a rocket attack on the facility.[30] Following the fire, all manufacturing buildings in the area were retrofitted with sprinklers.

Tittle currently suffers from severe dementia.[31]

Career statistics[edit]

Year Team G Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Rush yds Rush TD
1948 BAL 14 161 289 55.7 2,522 16 9 90.3 157 4
1949 BAL 11 148 289 51.2 2,209 14 18 66.8 89 2
1950 BAL 12 161 315 51.1 1,884 8 19 52.9 77 2
1951 SF 12 63 114 55.3 808 8 9 68.2 18 1
1952 SF 12 106 208 51.0 1,407 11 12 66.3 -11 0
1953 SF 11 149 259 57.5 2,121 20 16 84.1 41 6
1954 SF 12 170 295 57.6 2,205 9 9 78.7 68 4
1955 SF 12 147 287 51.2 2,185 17 28 56.6 114 0
1956 SF 11 124 218 56.9 1,641 7 12 68.6 67 4
1957 SF 12 176 279 63.1 2,157 13 15 80.0 220 6
1958 SF 11 120 208 57.7 1,467 9 15 63.9 35 2
1959 SF 11 102 199 51.3 1,331 10 15 58.0 24 0
1960 SF 9 69 127 54.3 694 4 3 70.8 61 0
1961 NYG 13 163 285 57.2 2,272 17 12 85.3 85 3
1962 NYG 14 200 375 53.3 3,224 33 20 89.5 108 2
1963 NYG 13 221 367 60.2 3,145 36 14 104.8 99 2
1964 NYG 14 147 281 52.3 1,798 10 22 51.6 -7 1
Career 204 2,427 4,395 55.2 33,070 242 248 74.3 1,245 39

* MVP seasons in bold

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1947 Classic Recap" (PDF). attcottonbowl.com. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  2. ^ "1948 NFL Draft Picks". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Giants get Tittle for Cordileone". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. August 16, 1961. p. 2-part 3. 
  4. ^ Fimrite, Ron (September 2, 1996). "Catching up with...49er Quarterback Y.A. Tittle (November 22, 1954)". Sports Illustrated: 2. 
  5. ^ "Tittle didn't want Giants trade", New Jersey Star-Ledger, September 22, 2009
  6. ^ "Tittle's Aerials Rip Skins". The Milwaukee Sentinel. United Press. October 29, 1962. p. 3. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Giants Rip Steelers 33-17 Behind Tittle". Lodi News-Sentinel. United Press International. December 16, 1963. p. 13. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  8. ^ "1964 NFL Standings, Team & Offensive Statistics". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Tittle Decides To Retire At 39". Gadsden Times. Associated Press. January 23, 1965. p. 7. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  10. ^ Worden, William L. (November 22, 1954). "Tittle of the 49ers". Sports Illustrated: 34. 
  11. ^ Maule, Tex (November 20, 1961). "The right to be first". Sports Illustrated. p. 20. 
  12. ^ "An old story: the Giants and Tittle". Sports Illustrated. September 7, 1964. p. 48. 
  13. ^ Leifer, Neil. "The NFL's Golden Oldies – Y.A. Tittle 1963 N.Y. Giants, age 37". SI Photos. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  14. ^ Tittle, Y.A. (August 16, 1965). "A good quarterback has to be his own man". Sports Illustrated: 26. 
  15. ^ Wolf, Bob (August 14, 1985). "Tittle never got to the top". The Milwaukee Journal. p. 3. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  16. ^ "UPI NFL Most Valuable Player Winners". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b "Newspaper Ent. Assoc. NFL Most Valuable Player Winners". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  18. ^ "AP NFL Most Valuable Player Winners". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  19. ^ Rathet, Mike (July 31, 1971). "Nixon Attends Induction Of Brown, Lombardi, Tittle And Others In Grid Hall Of Fame". Gettysburg Times. Associated Press. p. 9. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Tittle's aerials rip Skins". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. October 29, 1962. p. 3-part 2. 
  21. ^ "History: QBs who've passed for 7 TDs in a game". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  22. ^ Rappoport, Ken (December 10, 1984). "Tittle and Blanda give Marino passing marks". Gainesville Sun. Associated Press. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  23. ^ a b Shapiro, Michael (February 2007). "Fallen Giant". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  24. ^ a b Crowe, Jerry (January 28, 2008). "It turned out to be the biggest snap of his career". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  25. ^ [1], Oct 2, 1964,How They Racked Up the Great Tittle
  26. ^ Thurber, Jon (June 21, 2002). "Morris Berman, 92; Tittle Photo Endures". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  27. ^ "1964 Steelers: A Picture Worth More Than Words Can Say", June 3, 2008
  28. ^ "Miller High Life Girl in the Moon" on YouTube
  29. ^ Y.A. Tittle & Associates Insurance Services
  30. ^ Inside Intel, Jackson, T. pgs. 139–140
  31. ^ Wickersham, Seth (July 15, 2014). "Awakening The Giant". ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Bobby Layne
(1,814)
Total pass completions in the NFL
(2,118)

1963–1967
Succeeded by
Johnny Unitas
(2,830)
Preceded by
Bobby Layne
(196)
Total touchdown passes in the NFL
(212)

1963–1966
Succeeded by
Johnny Unitas
(290)
Preceded by
Bobby Layne
(26,768)
Total passing yards in the NFL
(28,339)

1964–1966
Succeeded by
Johnny Unitas
(40,239)