Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle dies at 90


Yelberton Abraham Tittle, the Hall of Fame quarterback whose career spanned 17 professional season, has died at the age of 90.

Tittle may be best remembered for the iconic photograph of him by Morris Berman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, showing him as he attempted recover from being beaten and bloodied by a brutal hit by John Baker of the Steelers in 1964, his final season. The 38-year-old Tittle suffered a concussion and broken sternum on the play, but played through his injuries and didn’t miss a game that season.

An All-SEC quarterback at LSU and MVP of the 1947 Cotton Bowl (a snowy game that was referred to as the Ice Bowl before a more famous NFL game took that name), Tittle was drafted by the Lions in the NFL but chose instead to play for the Baltimore Colts of the All-America Football Conference from 1948 to 1950.

When some AAFC teams joined the NFL, the Colts and other AAFC teams folded (the team later called the Baltimore Colts was a new franchise), and in a draft for the players from those teams Tittle was chosen by the 49ers. After spending his first two seasons as a backup in San Francisco, Tittle became the 49ers’ starter in 1953 and was chosen to the NFL’s third annual Pro Bowl.

Tittle lasted 10 seasons in San Francisco, and he made an impact off the field as well as on. In 1954, Tittle became the first professional football player featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In 1957, Tittle coined the term “alley-oop” for a play in which his 6-foot-3 receiver R.C. Owens would plant himself in the end zone and jump as high as he could, and Tittle would throw him a high pass. The term would later become associated with basketball, but Tittle came up with it first.

By 1961, the 49ers thought Tittle was way past his prime, and they traded him to the Giants. But he found his second wind in New York, being named to the Pro Bowl each of his first three seasons in New York and winning the league MVP award in 1963, when he led the league in completion percentage, touchdowns and yards per completion.

Tittle is remembered as a great passer, a great leader and as one of the toughest quarterbacks in history. And he’s remembered as the subject of one of the greatest sports photographs ever taken.

35 responses to “Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle dies at 90

  1. If he had any idea who or where he was for the past ten years, he would have HATED what the NFL has become.

  2. YA Tittle was a great quarterback and a leader. This man played during the days of old school football and was very talented. Condolences to his family, LSU fans, and to the New York Giants.

  3. He was one tough cookie. And a great passer.

    Back in those days most players played both on the offense and defense.

  4. Not the first great Giants QB – that would be Charlie Conerly – but probably the first legendary QB to play in NYC at the pro level. RIP, YA.

  5. Guys like this built the league and now get to watch it get kneeled on by America’s richest man-babies. Disgraceful.

  6. The 38-year-old Tittle suffered a concussion and broken sternum on the play, but played through his injuries and didn’t miss a game that season”

    And to think there is a $16M QB that has sat out the last 3 games because of a bruise, think about that for a moment.

  7. The divas of todays NFL stand on the shoulders of real men that played like warriors such as Y.A. R.I.P sir.

  8. I respect Y.A., his career and his life. And I agree with the bevy of posters here who do seem to recognize it was a different breed of man back then. They didn’t whine, they didn’t raise their arms and complain about phantom PI or RQB calls. They just played, and played on. RIP Mr. Tittle. I for one miss your era.

  9. The name of the game should be changed, the game these guys play today doesn’t even resemble the game played by legends such as this. RIP Y. A.

  10. Sad to see so many commenters using his passing as a political tool to knock NFL protestors. Maybe he would have disagreed with current players, maybe not, but to claim a person who just passed would have supported your political views is pretty unseemly.

  11. whatjusthapped says:
    October 9, 2017 at 2:54 pm
    The 38-year-old Tittle suffered a concussion and broken sternum on the play, but played through his injuries and didn’t miss a game that season”

    And to think there is a $16M QB that has sat out the last 3 games because of a bruise, think about that for a moment.

    I did. It’s actually a bone bruise to the knee to be specific. Maybe you could get away with playing QB with those types of injuries back then when QBs didn’t have to be as precise with their passes and the running game carried most teams but in today’s NFL almost every thing starts with the QB and his accuracy of which a his legs play a huge part.

  12. My first Giants games that I watched as a kid were when YA was the qb. I was only 6 or 7 at the time, but I still remember him. RIP YA. You were the best!

  13. I saw him play his last game. Sad but I remember it vividly in respect to seeing someone who was, and I’m not demeaning him, a little past his prime and skill level deteriorated to where he could no longer compete at the level needed at the time.
    For me he set in motion an awareness of others through the years trying to beat father time.

  14. f1restarter says:

    Definitely not the run-of-the-mill pampered, entitled snowflake you see so often today.
    I’d like to see you call a player today a “pampered, entitled snowflake”. Tell that to JJ Watt or Michael Bennett.

  15. He took a beating in a -11° wind chill against a nasty Bears defense in the 1963 Championship game and just never quit.
    Tough as nails.

  16. RIP YA. I for one am sorry for what your once great sport has become. Powder Puff football for snowflakes bears no resemblance to you warriors of yesteryear. Just know that the kneelers and complainers represent the minority of players and fans. They always will.

  17. Time after time it is proven to everyone why you and your contemporaries are referred to as the greatest generation.RIP 14

  18. Rest in peace. Historically Tittle is very under-rated. He got a bad rap for never playing on a championship team, when he should have gotten credit for leading them so far. Great quarterback throughout his entire career.

  19. Back when football was football….they assumed the risk for the love of the game and got paid a fraction of what they make now even considering inflation. Congratulations on a long life Tittle. God bless!

  20. They just don’t make them like Y.A. Tittle anymore. The game back then wasn’t as sophisticated as today, but it was a lot meaner. Back then you could get away with stuff that would get you suspended today.

    RIP, Mr. Tittle.

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