"It's a nice tribute, I suppose," said the old Baltimore Colt quarterback par excellence, Johnny Unitas. "But if you stay around long enough, you have to end up soemwhere."

Typically unemotional Unitas, that was his reaction to his selection yesterday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with Dick Butkus, the Chicago Bear middle linebacker who virtually gave his knees to the game he loved; offensive lineman Ron Mix of San Diego Charger longevity, and defensive back Yale Lary. A panel of 29 media experts from NFL cities did the picking.

No need to go into their exploits in depth now -- especially Unites and Bukus, who a la baseball's Willie Mays last week, made it no their first eligibility the mandatory five years since retirement -- they'll have their day in the sun July 28. Their induction, bringing Hall membership to 102, will precede the 1979 exhibition opener at the shrine site in Canton, Ohio, between dallas and Oakland.

A note on Lary, though, he is only the fifth DB to make it, and three are old Lions: Night Train Lane, Jack Christensen and Lary -- who has another claim to fame as No. 3 punter in NFL history, 44.28-yard average on 503 pops, less than a yard average behind all-time punter Sammy Baugh of the Redskins.