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Y. A. Tittle

Y. A. Tittle

Today it is virtually de riguer for professional quarterbacks to have a flashy television name - Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, what have you - and so we wonder if today's remote clickers would have taken to Yelberton Abraham Tittle as much as the game's serious historians do.

Y. A. (as everyone called him) began playing in 1948 and retired in 1964, before television crafted the Super Bowl (which in a few years will probably be played in June) into the true and unchanging mark of sports perfection. But at least Y. A. took the New York Giants to three championships, which, sad to say, the Giants never did win.

In them olden times, the quarterbacks called their own plays. In fact, they had to. An interviewer asked Y. A. if the coach ever told him which play to call. Y. A. pointed out he couldn't. "It was a fifteen yard penalty," he said. So he never had a play sent in.

What, never? Well, to quote the Captain of the Pinafore, hardly ever. A timeout would often bring the waterboy on field. Looking in the bucket, Y. A. might see a note inconspicuously placed at the bottom. It would bear a pithy message like "Punt", "Pass", or "Run".

Y. A. played in the era before even the worst of professional athletes pulled in enough in a year to feed a third world family for two or three thousand years. That didn't mean Y. A. wasn't making a good salary for the time - his highest salary was $70,000 per year, but in the off season almost all players worked at other jobs. Y. A. started an insurance business, and as of this writing, both the business - and Y. A. - are still going strong.


Giants and Heroes: A Daughter's Memories of Y.A. Tittle. Dianne Tittle De Laet, Steerforth Press, (1995). Actually quite a nice book. Y. A. was interviewed after the book came out and he joked that the only way such a book could have been written by a daughter of his (who is an author and musician) is his real daughter and another must have been mixed up at birth .