The NFL has been around for nearly 100 seasons and throughout those years, thousands of players have come and left. However, we’ll never seen one like Yelberton Abraham Tittle.
In his storied 17 year career with the AAFC and NFL, Tittle revolutionized the game with his style of play and the legacy he left on the field. Tittle started out his career at the University of Louisiana State as a tailback before LSU head coach Bernie Moore moved him to quarterback in his sophomore season. Tittle had early success in LSU, he beat rival Tulane in a 41-27 beat down in the Cotton Bowl and in the classic “Ice Bowl” game where he was named co-MVP of title game even though the Tigers and Razorbacks tied.
After spending two years in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), Tittle was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1951 and was paired with Hall of Famers running backs Joe Perry, John Henry Johnson and Hugh McElhenny. In his first year as starter, Tittle lead the Niners to a 9-3 record and made his first Pro Bowl. During his tenure with the Niners, Tittle made three Pro Bowls, one All-Pro team, passed for 16,016 yards and threw for 125 touchdowns.
After being replaced by newcomer John Brodie, San Francisco decided to traded the then 34-year-old to the New York Giants for G Lou Cordileone. Tittle was displeased with moving to the East Coast and started his Giants career sharing QB duties with starter Charlie Conerly. In the middle of the season, Tittle was named full-time and lead the team to the 1961 NFL championship where they lost to Green Bay 37-0. In the next two years, Tittle had maybe the finest years as a pro. He tossed 6,369 yards, passed for 69 touchdowns and even won the 1963 NFL MVP for his efforts. Tittle led New York to two straight championships game which they ended up on the losing end against the Bears and Packers.
What many people remember of Y.A career’s is the famous photograph. During a 1964 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was knocked out by Pittsburgh’s John Baker after throwing a pick-six which he suffered a cracked sternum, a cartilage in his ribs and a concussion. Even with these serious injuries, he was able to complete the last year of his legendary career.
Y.A Tittle will be remembered as one of few that paved the way for Quarterback play in the league. For example, He and teammate R.C. Owens created the ‘alley-oop” which his still utilized in the NFL and in the NBA . When Tittle retired, he was the holder of eight records (passing yards, passing TDs, pass attempts, pass completions, passing TDs in a season, games played, career total offense) and still holds the record of most TDs in a game with seven (7 other QB’s share the record with him). Even with his accomplishments, the only blemish on Tittle’s resume is him not delivering in the postseason, where he’s 0-4 in four career playoff games. Even though he long gone now, Y.A. Tittle presence in the early years of the game will be enshrined forever.
Yelberton Abraham Tittle -October 24, 1926 – October 8, 2017. Rest In Paradise