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Y. A. Tittle

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File:Y. A. Tittle - 1955 Bowman.jpg
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
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Career information
High school: Marshall (TX)
College: LSU
NFL draft: 1948 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career Template:If empty statistics
TDINT: 242–248
Yards: 33,070
QB Rating: 74.3
Stats at

Yelberton Abraham Tittle (born October 24, 1926), better known as Y. A. Tittle, is a former football quarterback in the National Football League and All-America Football Conference who played for the Baltimore Colts, San Francisco 49ers, and the New York Giants. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

Early years and college career

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 Cotton Bowl of January 1947, a scoreless tie in an ice storm between LSU and Arkansas.

Professional career

Tittle was the sixth overall selection of the 1948 NFL Draft, taken by the Detroit Lions. He was the second quarterback drafted, following Bobby Layne of Texas (Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lujack of Notre Dame was selected in the 1946 draft.) 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.[1] (Cordileone, the 12th overall pick in the 1960 NFL Draft, was quoted as reacting "Me, even up for Y.A. Tittle? You're kidding,"[2] and later said angrily that the Giants traded him for "a 42-year-old quarterback."[3]) 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, Aaron Thomas, Joe Walton, Frank Gifford, Alex Webster, Dick Lynch, Jimmy Patton, Roosevelt Brown, Andy Robustelli, Sam Huff, Erich Barnes, and Joe Morrison. Tittle threw seven touchdown passes on October 28, 1962, in a 49–34 win over the Washington Redskins. In 1963, he set what was then an NFL record by throwing 36 touchdown passes. All told, Tittle threw a grand total of 86 touchdown passes from 1961–1963. According to pro football historian T.J. Troup, 80 of those touchdowns came in Giants victories and only 6 came in games the team lost.

The following year in 1964, Tittle's final season, the Giants were a dismal 2–10–2 (.214), the worst record in the 14-team league. Tittle's performance fell from 36 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 1963 to 10 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in 1964, and he retired after the season.

Tittle was the first professional football player featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on its fifteenth issue dated November 22, 1954.[4] His second cover was with the Giants in November 1961,[5] and he was on the season preview issue of 1964, a two-page fold-out photo from the 1963 title game.[6][7] Following his retirement, Tittle was on a fourth SI cover in August 1965.[8]


The void of Tittle's impressive football résumé was an NFL championship.[editorializing] The Giants lost three consecutive title games in 1961, 1962, and 1963. The 1963 game was especially disappointing, as Tittle hurt his leg while the Giants fell 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 twice received the NFL Most Valuable Player Award. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. To this day, Tittle is the only post-war quarterback in the Hall of Fame who started but did not win a postseason game. (Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen never started a playoff game; he backed up Norm Van Brocklin on the 1960 World Champion Philadelphia Eagles and Billy Kilmer for the Washington Redskins' playoff games in the 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974 seasons.)[citation needed]

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)[9] and George Blanda (1961, AFL). The feat was later equaled by Joe Kapp (1969), Peyton Manning (2013), and Nick Foles (2013).[10] 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.[citation needed]

Famous photo

A photo of a dazed Tittle in the endzone 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.[11] 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. He played the rest of the season, but the formerly powerful Giants finished a disappointing 2–10–2, the worst record in the NFL in 1964.[citation needed]

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.[11] The photo was ineligible for a Pulitzer Prize because it was not published, but 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.[citation needed]

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."[citation needed]

Tittle and Berman weren't the only ones to profit from the famous image, 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. Baker went on to serve for 25 years.[12]

The photo was identified so heavily with youthful years of the baby boom generation that Miller Beer used it in an iconic ad relaunching its "Miller High Life" brand in 2007–08.[13]

Unusual Style

One interesting quality and legacy of Tittle was that he 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.


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).[14] 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.[15] Following the fire, all manufacturing buildings in the area were retrofitted with sprinklers.

Career statistics

Regular season

  NFL (1950–64)

  • 3,817 passes attempted
  • 2,118 passes completed
  • 28,339 passing yards
  • 242 passing touchdowns
  • 248 passes intercepted
  • 81.4 quarterback rating

  AAFC (1948–49)

  • 578 passes attempted
  • 309 passes completed
  • 4,731 passing yards
  • 30 passing touchdowns
  • 25 passes intercepted
  • 82.1 quarterback rating

See also


  1. ^ "Giants get Tittle for Cordileone". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. August 16, 1961. p. 2-part 3. 
  2. ^ Fimrite, Ron (September 2, 1996). "Catching up with...49er Quarterback Y.A. Tittle (November 22, 1954)". Sports Illustrated: 2. 
  3. ^ "Tittle didn't want Giants trade", New Jersey Star-Ledger, September 22, 2009
  4. ^ Worden, William L. (November 22, 1954). "Tittle of the 49ers". Sports Illustrated: 34. 
  5. ^ Maule, Tex (November 20, 1961). "The right to be first". Sports Illustrated. p. 20. 
  6. ^ "An old story: the Giants and Tittle". Sports Illustrated. September 7, 1964. p. 48. 
  7. ^ Leifer, Neil. "The NFL's Golden Oldies - Y.A. Tittle 1963 N.Y. Giants, age 37". SI Photos. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  8. ^ Tittle, Y.A. (August 16, 1965). "A good quarterback has to be his own man". Sports Illustrated: 26. 
  9. ^ "Tittle's aerials rip Skins". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. October 29, 1962. p. 3-part 2. 
  10. ^ "History: QBs who've passed for 7 TDs in a game". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b " Fallen Giant—"A whole lifetime was over," legendary quarterback Y.A. Tittle recalls, retrieved 02-Feb-2013: "It was chosen the best sports photograph in the National Headliner Award competition of 1964. Now, it is one of only three pictures hanging in the lobby of the National Press Photographers Association headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, alongside Joe Rosenthal's photograph of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima and the image of the fiery death of the Hindenburg dirigible at Lakehurst, New Jersey."
  12. ^ "1964 Steelers: A Picture Worth More Than Words Can Say", June 3, 2008
  13. ^ "Miller High Life Girl in the Moon" on YouTube
  14. ^ Y.A. Tittle & Associates Insurance Services
  15. ^ Inside Intel, Jackson, T. pgs. 139-140

External links

Preceded by
Ernie Case
Baltimore Colts (AAFC) Starting Quarterback
Succeeded by
Franchise folded
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Bobby Layne
Total pass completions in the NFL

Succeeded by
Johnny Unitas
Preceded by
Bobby Layne
Total touchdown passes in the NFL

Succeeded by
Johnny Unitas
Preceded by
Bobby Layne
Total passing yards in the NFL

Succeeded by
Johnny Unitas