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Legendary football icon Tom Matte mourned in Baltimore


Baltimore has lost a legendary football icon.Tom Matte, who played for the Baltimore Colts from 1961 through 1972, died at the age of 82.Matte was the Colts’ first-round pick of the 1961 Draft out of Ohio State — a tough-as-nails running back who fans took notice right away. And then, through a warm and joyful personality, Matte became a local legend.Matte made his fame and fortune in Baltimore, and then never left. A longtime businessman in the area, and then broadcaster for the Baltimore Ravens, he also enjoyed the role of welcome party host.”When we came to town, one of the first people to welcome us were Tom and Judy Matte. We went out to dinner, and (he was) just a larger-than-life personality, and she’s the best, just the best. We love them. We love the Mattes. We know that he’s a man of faith and he’s with his maker now, and just condolences to his family,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said.As a Colt in Baltimore in the 1960s, even the ball boys were famous. The team was as beloved as any in the nation.But in 1965, Matte went from local celebrity to national star. The five-year running back took over the starring role of quarterback against the Green Bay Packers when Johnny Unitas and his backup were injured.In the Western Conference championship game, it was Matte vs. Hall of Famer Bart Starr. Matte — who had the plays he could run taped to a wristband — led Baltimore to overtime at Lambeau Field. And even though the Colts lost 13-10, the legend of Tom Matte was born.Stan White, a fellow Ohio State Buckeye and Baltimore Colt, is not surprised Matte remained so popular, even now.”The kids I coach at St. Frances don’t even know the Baltimore Colts existed, but they know Johnny Unitas because of the statue and Tom Matte for the wristband,” White said.And just as Matte welcomed Harbaugh to Baltimore, he did the same for White 45 years earlier.”We played together my rookie year,” White said. “He was always upbeat. He was trying to get you to do the best you could do. He was trying to be the best teammate he could be, and he was trying to do whatever he could for his team to win. He was the ultimate team player.”Matte suffered from poor health for the last several years, but even to the end, he remained a smiling storyteller — an approachable icon.Aside from telling stories that largely cannot be repeated on TV, Matte’s open-arm approach to meeting anyone is a wonderful, lasting legacy.

Baltimore has lost a legendary football icon.

Tom Matte, who played for the Baltimore Colts from 1961 through 1972, died at the age of 82.

Matte was the Colts’ first-round pick of the 1961 Draft out of Ohio State — a tough-as-nails running back who fans took notice right away. And then, through a warm and joyful personality, Matte became a local legend.

Matte made his fame and fortune in Baltimore, and then never left. A longtime businessman in the area, and then broadcaster for the Baltimore Ravens, he also enjoyed the role of welcome party host.

“When we came to town, one of the first people to welcome us were Tom and Judy Matte. We went out to dinner, and (he was) just a larger-than-life personality, and she’s the best, just the best. We love them. We love the Mattes. We know that he’s a man of faith and he’s with his maker now, and just condolences to his family,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said.

As a Colt in Baltimore in the 1960s, even the ball boys were famous. The team was as beloved as any in the nation.

But in 1965, Matte went from local celebrity to national star. The five-year running back took over the starring role of quarterback against the Green Bay Packers when Johnny Unitas and his backup were injured.

In the Western Conference championship game, it was Matte vs. Hall of Famer Bart Starr. Matte — who had the plays he could run taped to a wristband — led Baltimore to overtime at Lambeau Field. And even though the Colts lost 13-10, the legend of Tom Matte was born.

Stan White, a fellow Ohio State Buckeye and Baltimore Colt, is not surprised Matte remained so popular, even now.

“The kids I coach at St. Frances don’t even know the Baltimore Colts existed, but they know Johnny Unitas because of the statue and Tom Matte for the wristband,” White said.

And just as Matte welcomed Harbaugh to Baltimore, he did the same for White 45 years earlier.

“We played together my rookie year,” White said. “He was always upbeat. He was trying to get you to do the best you could do. He was trying to be the best teammate he could be, and he was trying to do whatever he could for his team to win. He was the ultimate team player.”

Matte suffered from poor health for the last several years, but even to the end, he remained a smiling storyteller — an approachable icon.

Aside from telling stories that largely cannot be repeated on TV, Matte’s open-arm approach to meeting anyone is a wonderful, lasting legacy.

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You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.



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