"If the success of a leader of any team is defined in victories, then Joe Montana and the teams he has been associated with would be recognized as simply the best" - Marty Schottenheimer, NFL Coach.

Maybe that was slightly overstated, but only slightly. Joe Montana was a consummate master of the quarterback position in the National Football League in the 1980s and 90s. By the time he finally retired in 1994, he had won 4 Super Bowls, been named to 8 Pro Bowls and was named MVP in three of those Super Bowls.

Montana was born in New Eagle, Pennsylvania, on June 11, 1956, the only child of Joe Sr. and Theresa, and raised in nearby Monongahela. The family lived in a two-story frame house in a middle-class neighborhood and Joe Sr. helped his son get involved with sports. After a high school career that saw him excel in many sports, he accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Norte Dame.

He started off his college career as a benchwarmer, but by the third game of the 1977 season, Montana was put in the game, and responded by pulling out one of many 4th quarter victories in his career. He had a very successful season in 1978 helping the Irish win the national championship, and had another stellar season in 1979, capping off the year with a memorable victory in the Cotton Bowl against the University of Houston.

Even though he was a proven winner in college, Montana was not selected until the third round of the NFL draft where Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers selected him with the 82nd selection overall. Admittedly, there were reasons that some NFL teams shied away from Joe. He did not exactly have a cannon arm (and never would), was not very fast or mobile, and while being 6 ft 2 in tall (only average by NFL quarterback standards), weighed in at only 195 pounds, making scouts wonder if he could survive the punishment that the NFL can dish out.

But Joe had many positives as well, many even saying that he was "born" to play quarterback. He could see the whole field, and had the superior intelligence to make use of what he saw. Pressure never seemed to faze him, and he was also a consummate competitor, in that he REALLY hated to lose. Montana just seemed to have "it"; the intangibles that all great quarterbacks possess.

The 49ers brought Montana along slowly, having him sit out the first year so he could learn the nuances of the West Coast offense, then inserting him as the starter in 1981. Montana provided dividends right away, leading the 49ers to a 13-3 record and the playoffs (which included the infamous "The Catch" game), eventually capturing San Francisco's first Super Bowl by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 in Super Bowl XVI. While Montana's statistics were not anything special (14-for-22, 157 yards, 1 TD), he was named the game's Most Valuable Player, and being 25, the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl MVP (until Tom Brady won in SuperBowl XXXVI).

Three years later Montana and the 49ers struck paydirt again, beating the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX. This time he was the focal point of the game, throwing 3 touchdown passes, and was 24-for-35 for 331 yards. He also ran for 59 yards and one touchdown, which was more rushing yards than the whole Dolphin team could muster. He set Super Bowl records in both passing and rushing and earned his second MVP award, prompting Dolphins defensive coordinator Chuck Studley to say:

``You know what makes Montana so tough?" `"There's nobody else like him. . . . The way he knows where he is, where his receivers are, that complete vision he has -- it's unbelievable."

Joe had some injury problems in 1986, some of them serious enough that doctors advised him to retire, but he instead plugged on, earning his third Super Bowl trip against the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. The Bengals proved to be a tough foe, as Joe and the 49ers found themselves behind in the game 16-13 late in the fourth quarter. The 49ers had the ball with 3:10 left, but they were on their own eight yard line. Joe remained cool as usual. How cool? Harris Barton, an offensive lineman for the 49ers at the time relates:

``Right before that series, we're standing on the sidelines, and he says, `Look up there.' He's pointing up in the stands. He says, `That's John Candy.' ''

At one point in the drive, Montana actually was hyperventilating and having trouble catching his breath (mostly due to yelling out the plays over the din of the crowd). Nonetheless, he took the 49ers 92 yards in 11 plays, throwing a 10-yard pass to John Taylor for the winning touchdown with 34 seconds to go, winning the game 20-16.

The next season, under new head coach George Seifert, Montana took the 49ers to a 14-2 record. San Francisco won its postseason games by 28, 27 and 45 points and belted the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV. Montana completed 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards and a then-record five touchdowns. He also threw 13 straight completions, setting a Super Bowl record and earning a third MVP award.

Injuries raised their ugly head for Joe in 1991 and 1992, making him miss over 30 games. Even worse for Montana, by the time he came back, another future Hall of Famer, Steve Young had taken full control of the 49er quarterback position. Due to his age (36) and his injury history, Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993. He led the Chiefs to two playoff appearances before retiring at age 38.

Some notable facts about Joe Montana's NFL career:

  • Eight time Pro Bowl selection.
  • Two time NFL MVP.
  • Led the NFL in passing five times.
  • Second all time in passing efficiency. (92.3)
  • First ballot NFL Hall of Famer. (2000)
  • Seventh in touchdown passes thrown all time (273).
  • Thirty-one fourth quarter comebacks.
  • Sixth in total yards. (40,511)

Notre dame statistics for Joe Montana:

GAME             ATT.   COMP.   INT.   YDS.   TDS.   RESULT 
Boston College DNP . . . . . 
Purdue            1      0      1      0      0    W 17-0 
Northwestern     11      6      0     80      1    W 31-7 
Michigan State    5      2      1     19      0    L 10-3 
North Carolina    4      3      0    129      1    W 21-14 
Air Force        18      7      3    134      1    W 31-30 
USC              11      3      2     25      0    L 24-17 
Navy             16      7      1    120      1    W 31-10 
Georgia Tech     DNP Broken finger . . . . 
Pittsburgh       DNP Broken finger . . . . 
Miami            DNP Broken finger . . . . 
TOTALS            66     28      8    507      4 

 

1976 NOTRE DAME STATS - MISSED SEASON DUE TO INJURY 

  

1977 NOTRE DAME STATS 

GAME           ATT.   COMP.   INT.   YDS.  TDS.   RESULT 
Pittsburgh     DNP . . . . . 
Mississippi    DNP . . . . . 
Purdue          14     9       0      154      1 W 31-24 
Michigan State  23     8       3      105      0 W 16-6 
Army            17     8       1      109      0 W 24-0 
USC             24    13       1      167      2 W 49-19 
Navy            24    11       2      260      1 W 43-10 
Georgia Tech    25    15       0      273      3 W 69-14 
Clemson         21     9       0      172      0 W 21-17 
Air Force       15    11       1      172      1 W 49-0 
Miami           26    15       0      192      3 W 48-10 
TOTALS         189    99       8    1,604     11 
Post Season
Cotton Bowl     25    10       1      111      1 W 38-10 
 
1978 NOTRE DAME STATS 
. 
GAME          ATT.   COMP. INT. YDS.   TDS.      RESULT 
Missouri        28   13     2   151     0        L 3-0 
Michigan        29   16     2   192     1        L 28-14 
Purdue          11    7     2    95     0        W 10-16 
Michigan State  12    6     0   149     0        W 29-25 
Pittsburgh      25   15     0   218     2        W 26-17 
Air Force       24   13     0   193     2        W 38-15 
Miami           20   12     1   175     0        W 20-0 
Navy            26   14     1   145     1        W 27-7 
Tennessee       25   11     0   144     0        W 31-14 
Georgia Tech    19   14     0   190     2        W 38-21 
USC             41   20     1   358     2        L 27-25 
TOTALS         260  141     9  2,010   10 
POST SEASON 
Cotton Bowl     34   13     3    163    1        W 35-34 

National Football League statistics for Joe Montana:

+----------+-----+---------------------------------------+-----------------+
| Year  TM |   G |  Comp   Att   PCT    YD   Y/A  TD INT |  Att  Yards  TD |
+----------+-----+---------------------------------------+-----------------+
| 1979 sfo |  16 |    13    23  56.5    96   4.2   1   0 |     3    22   0 |
| 1980 sfo |  15 |   176   273  64.5  1795   6.6  15   9 |    32    77   2 |
| 1981 sfo |  16 |   311   488  63.7  3565   7.3  19  12 |    25    95   2 |
| 1982 sfo |   9 |   213   346  61.6  2613   7.6  17  11 |    30   118   1 |
| 1983 sfo |  16 |   332   515  64.5  3910   7.6  26  12 |    61   284   2 |
| 1984 sfo |  16 |   279   432  64.6  3630   8.4  28  10 |    39   118   2 |
| 1985 sfo |  15 |   303   494  61.3  3653   7.4  27  13 |    42   153   3 |
| 1986 sfo |   8 |   191   307  62.2  2236   7.3   8   9 |    17    38   0 |
| 1987 sfo |  13 |   266   398  66.8  3054   7.7  31  13 |    35   141   1 |
| 1988 sfo |  14 |   238   397  59.9  2981   7.5  18  10 |    38   132   3 |
| 1989 sfo |  13 |   271   386  70.2  3521   9.1  26   8 |    49   227   3 |
| 1990 sfo |  15 |   321   520  61.7  3944   7.6  26  16 |    40   162   1 |
| 1992 sfo |   1 |    15    21  71.4   126   6.0   2   0 |     3    28   0 |
| 1993 kan |  11 |   181   298  60.7  2144   7.2  13   7 |    25    64   0 |
| 1994 kan |  14 |   299   493  60.6  3283   6.7  16   9 |    18    17   0 |
+----------+-----+---------------------------------------+-----------------+
|  TOTAL   | 192 |  3409  5391  63.2 40551   7.5 273 139 |   457  1676  20 |
+----------+-----+---------------------------------------+-----------------+

NFL Post Season statistics for Joe Montana.

* denotes Super Bowl.

 Year  Opp   Result  |  CMP  ATT   PYD PTD INT  |  RSH    YD  TD
---------------------+--------------------------+-----------------
 1981  nyg  W,38-24  |   20   31   304   2   1  |    3    -9   0
 1981  dal  W,28-27  |   25   33   286   3   3  |    3    -5   0
*1981  cin  W,26-21  |   14   22   157   1   0  |    6    18   1
 1983  det  W,24-23  |   18   31   201   1   1  |    3    16   0
 1983  was  L,21-24  |   27   48   347   3   1  |    5    40   0
 1984  nyg  W,21-10  |   25   39   309   3   3  |    3    63   0
 1984  chi  W,23-0   |   18   34   233   1   2  |    5    22   0
*1984  mia  W,38-16  |   24   35   331   3   0  |    5    59   1
 1985  nyg  L,3-17   |   26   47   296   0   1  |    1     0   0
 1986  nyg  L,3-49   |    8   15    98   0   2  |    0     0   0
 1987  min  L,24-36  |   12   26   109   0   1  |    3    20   0
 1988  min  W,34-9   |   16   27   178   2   1  |    3    18   0
 1988  chi  W,28-3   |   17   27   288   3   0  |    3    12   0
*1988  cin  W,20-16  |   23   36   357   2   0  |    5     9   0
 1989  min  W,41-13  |   17   24   241   4   0  |    2     0   0
 1989  ram  W,30-3   |   26   30   262   2   0  |    1     4   0
*1989  den  W,55-10  |   22   29   297   5   0  |    2    15   0
 1990  was  W,28-10  |   22   31   274   2   1  |    1     1   0
 1990  nyg  L,13-15  |   18   26   190   1   0  |    2     9   0
 1993  pit  W,27-24  |   28   43   276   1   0  |    4    13   0
 1993  hou  W,28-20  |   22   38   299   3   2  |    1    -1   0
 1993  buf  L,13-30  |    9   23   125   0   1  |    1     1   0
 1994  mia  L,17-27  |   26   37   314   2   1  |    2     5   0
---------------------+--------------------------+-----------------
TOTAL                |  463  732  5772  44  21  |   64   310   2

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