ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Y.A. Tittle, a great quarterback at Louisiana State University and later in the National Football League, has died at age 90. More than 20 years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tittle and his daughter, Dianne, a classicist and harpist who had written a book about him. The book compared Tittle, a great passer who never won a championship, to heroes of classical mythology. He was immensely proud of his daughter's erudition.
And I asked Y.A. Tittle about the 1963 NFL title game, his last. There was no Super Bowl yet. This was the big game. It was the New York Giants' third straight championship game with Tittle at the helm, and the championship victory he had sought all his life was not to be.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
Y A TITTLE: I was disappointed because for so many years, I'd chased the whale. I had never really won the championship game, and I - we won our district championship when I was in high school. We had went and we lost in a crucial game later. I didn't go as far as we could have gone. I go into college. We played in the championship game - not champion, but in the Cotton Bowl. We tied with Arkansas. Much better football team than Arkansas all that year, but we caught a snowstorm there.
The same thing seemed to follow me all my life, never, ever really winning the big game. And I think Dianne has sort of - sort of - her book has been built around this. It's the quest of really winning, that I never did win. But I did win, really, in the long run because I have four wonderful children and grandchildren. And Dianne has written this book, and she's written it with good taste. She's praised her father while I think telling a lot of truth about the people in sports that I played with.
And, Mr. Siegel, I've loved football ever since the day I played with a stuffed Lindbergh cap, I guess, back in east Texas and till the very last day at 38 years old I threw a ball in my last practice with the Giants. I almost wish I could do it all over again because it was a wonderful experience and a wonderful ride.
SIEGEL: The late Yelberton Abraham Tittle Jr., known to football fans of his day as Y.A.
(SOUNDBITE OF DOM LA NENA SONG, "NO MEU PAIS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.