Tom Matte, Emergency Quarterback for Baltimore Colts, Dies at 82

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Tom Matte, a stubby halfback for the Baltimore Colts who stepped in as their quarterback late in the 1965 time when Johnny Unitas and his backup, Gary Cuozzo, had been wounded and virtually took the group to the N.F.L. championship video game, died on Tuesday at his residence in Towson, Md. He was 82.

John Harbaugh, the coach of the Baltimore Ravens, announced the death.

Matte was a durable, reputable and successful managing again for the Colts for 12 seasons. But he was no stranger to enjoying quarterback. He experienced performed the posture at Ohio Condition College, while he had not passed usually in Mentor Woody Hayes’s operate-oriented offense. And, with Unitas, a long run Hall of Famer, at quarterback for the Colts, Matte did not have to fear about anything but taking handoffs and catching passes.

Matte also knew that he was physically restricted as a quarterback.

“I have very small fingers,” Matte informed PressBox, a Maryland sports activities media organization, in 2020. “I could not even put my hand about the ball. Unitas, he’d wrap nearly all the way close to the ball, so he would normally toss that fantastic spiral.”

But in successive weeks in December, Unitas tore up his appropriate knee and Cuozzo separated his still left shoulder, environment the phase for Matte to turn into an enduring favourite among Colts admirers. In a match on Dec. 18, 1965, he and Ed Brown, a journeyman player, shared the quarterbacking responsibilities and led the Colts to a 20-17 victory more than the Los Angeles Rams.

Matte did not entire any passes but led the staff in dashing with 99 yards.

“We had scratched our difficult offense, but the Rams did not know that,” Don Shula, the Colts’ coach, advised The Baltimore Sunlight in 2005. “So Tom would fake a intricate perform and then operate the ball himself.”

To don’t forget what he had to simply call, Matte wore a vinyl wristband with all the performs written in very small lettering by his spouse, Judy.

The future activity was for the Western Conference championship amongst the Colts and the Environmentally friendly Bay Packers, to determine which group would engage in the Eastern Conference champion for the N.F.L. title. Matte once more led the group in speeding, with 57 yards, and completed five passes for 40 yards. But the Packers tied the sport in regulation on a wobbly, disputed subject goal and received it, 13-10, in overtime.

“Everyone realized in the region that this attempt to earn without the need of Unitas and his backup with Matte would be not possible,” Upton Bell, the Colts’ player staff director at the time, stated in an e mail, “but we experienced it gained and then lost on a blown phone.”

Matte was disconsolate following the sport and tore off his wristband, which was retrieved by a Baltimore sportswriter, John Steadman. It is now on show at the Professional Football Corridor of Fame in Canton, Ohio, an accent born of necessity that has come to be commonplace in the N.F.L.

The Colts were greeted by a throng of worshipful fans at Friendship Airport in Baltimore. Some of them lifted Matte onto their shoulders, if not in triumph then at minimum in admiration for his work as an emergency quarterback.

Thomas Roland Matte was born on June 14, 1939, in Pittsburgh. His father, Roland, was a longtime newbie hockey player who had small stints in the N.H.L. with the Detroit Cougars (now the Red Wings) and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Matte was a running back at Ohio State right up until 1959, when he performed quarterback at instances. He became the starter in 1960, performing well sufficient (he handed for 737 yards and ran for 682) to be voted an All-American and complete seventh in Heisman Trophy voting.

He was chosen by the Colts in the 1st round of the 1961 N.F.L. draft and about 12 seasons rushed for 4,646 yards and scored 45 touchdowns. He also caught 249 passes for 2,869 yards and 12 touchdowns. He experienced his best period in 1969, dashing for 11 touchdowns, the most in the league, and piling up 909 yards, third most powering Gale Sayers and Calvin Hill.

Matte received the nickname Aged Garbage Can from Alex Karras, the Detroit Lions defensive deal with, for his rough running design.

In Super Bowl III between the Colts and the Jets on Jan. 12, 1969, Matte experienced just one of his most effective online games ever, hurrying for 116 yards (fifty percent of those people on a 2nd-quarter operate) on 11 carries. But the favored Colts misplaced in a gorgeous upset, 16-7.

Matte was traded to the San Diego Chargers in early 1973 but selected to retire. Eleven years later, the operator of the Colts, Robert Irsay, moved the group to Indianapolis. The relocation angered admirers and numerous gamers, including Matte, who informed The Sunshine in 1984: “Bob Irsay, you are out of your intellect. You are terrible for the metropolis. He’s broken a wonderful football custom.”

Matte would later get the job done as a radio analyst for the Baltimore Ravens, the new N.F.L. franchise that changed the Colts, from 1996 to 2005.

He is survived by his spouse. Finish details on his survivors wasn’t promptly available.