News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

August 12, 2007

Given to Fly: Manning, Colts arrival for camp this year special for longtime Unitas fan

TERRE HAUTE — The best part of visiting Rose-Hulman to watch the Indianapolis Colts prepare to defend their Super Bowl XLI championship is standing near the sidelines at practice to witness Peyton Manning deliver passes to the hands of Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne with impeccable precision.

One Terre Haute fan of the Colts understands that perhaps more than most. Nick Agresta Jr. became a Colts fan long before the team’s move to Indianapolis, when the late, great Johnny Unitas was delivering the same type of perfect passes.

Agresta Jr. recalls a television special in which cameras showed Unitas hitting his favorite target, Raymond Berry, with timing routes and he was sold for life on the man with “the Golden Arm.”

“Unitas, how he would throw to that spot … Berry would stop, turn around and the ball would be in his hands. That’s what drew me,” Agresta Jr. said.

The lifelong fan of the Colts is even more impressed with Manning’s ability, he said, because the defense’s have had time to plan for the more pass-heavy offenses.

“Manning is the quintessential master at [hitting receivers on timing routes],” Agresta Jr. said.

Manning has already broken numerous NFL passing records — and now that he has a Super Bowl ring — he’ll always be in the conversation as the best quarterback of all-time. But one Unitas record is as close to unbreakable as any in the NFL.

Unitas and his streak of 47 straight games with a touchdown pass is one of the premier accomplishments in sports. Brett Favre’s 36 straight is the closest anyone has come. While Manning has failed to reach paydirt in only 14 of his 144 career games played, the most consecutive games he reached the end zone was 28 — a mark that began in his rookie season.

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