49ers: How and Why I Became a Fan of Joe “Mr. Cool” Montana

Niners Live gets up close and personal and shares with fans: How and Why I Became a Fan of Joe “Mr. Cool” Montana.

 

This writer would like to take this time to introduce one of my favorite 49ers of all-time/greats growing up, and one of the best quarterbacks/players in the NFL to ever play the game. Maybe you’ve heard of him? His name is Mr. Joe “Cool” Montana, and let’s put some respect on it, shall we? Ok, let’s.

Joe Montana was born on June 11, 1956, in New Eagle, PA. Standing slim and trim at 6’2”, 205 pounds, he was drafted by my San Francisco 49ers in the third round in 1979 from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He had a stellar career with the 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs before his retirement.

Being the master of the late-game comebacks, Montana directed his teams to 31 fourth quarter comeback victories including a 92-yard drive in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XXIII against the Cincinnati Bengals.

His uncanny ability to bring a team back from apparent defeat was so common that it simply became referred to as “Montana Magic”.  A real student of the game, Montana won the NFL’s passing title in both 1987 and 1989. He topped the NFC in passing five times (1981, 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1989). Thirty-nine times he passed for more than 300 yards in a game, including seven times in which he surpassed 400 yards. His six 300 yard passing performances in the post season are an NFL record. He also owns the career playoff record for attempts, completions, touchdowns, and yards gained passing. Eleven times has Joe Cool led his team to the playoffs. Along the way, he captured nine divisional championships and a perfect winning record in four Super Bowls (XVI, XIX, XXII, and XXIV). (Profootballhof.com).

Montana’s outstanding play in three Super bowls earned him the Most Valuable Player award, he was named all-NFL three times and all NFC on five occasions, and he made the Pro Bowl eight times. This was a league record at the time.

Joe Montana missed 31 consecutive games due to injury to his throwing arm. He made a dramatic comeback in 1992 in a Monday Night Football game against the Detroit Lions. In the second half, Joe performed his magic of old, completing 15 of 21 for 126 yards passing and two touchdowns to defeat the Lions 24-6.

In 1994, Montana became just the fifth quarterback to pass for more than 40,000 yards in a career. At the time of his retirement, he ranked 4th in career passing yards (40,551 yards), attempts (5,391), and passing touchdowns (273).  His 3,409 completions ranked third all-time, and his career passer rating of 92.3 was second all time.

What impresses me personally about Joe Montana was that he was known for his calm, cool, and collective swagger when faced with clutch situations in the game. His calm energy had a way of releasing the pressure on the team which allowed them to focus and execute, play the game and enjoy themselves. In Super Bowl XXIII, when the 49ers were down, Joe Montana glanced to the sideline between players in the huddle and noticed John Candy on the sideline. Offensive linemen Harris Barton was a big fan of celebrities. So Joe decides to point to John Candy and bring everyone’s attention to him. So what, right?  Well, the gesture was just enough to distract the team out of their nerves. It allowed them to just get out of their feelings and go out and do what they had been trained to do. Moments like these are what gave him the nickname “Joe Cool”, and that particular moment began one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history. He is the signature definition of ‘stay focused under pressure.’

Important to note: In his Super Bowl history, Joe Montana never threw an interception, nor was he ever defeated. By my account….. Joe Montana put together a stellar career that will be remembered for the ages, accounting for four Super Bowl wins and three Super Bowl MVPs. After 16 seasons, he made a name for himself as Joe “Cool” as seen in the tribute video (via NFL.com).

Can I leave you with this?

Joe Montana remained perfect, playing in an era where the rules of the game were completely different, especially on protecting the quarterback. In Montana days, it was “smash mouth” football and every player was fair game. Not to mention, cornerbacks had much more leeway in grabbing, bumping and even mugging the receiver compared to nowadays. I wonder what the advantages would be for Joe Cool if he had the benefit of PI calls in this day and age? Wait, hold that thought.

In 2002, the NFL came up with the ‘no helmet-to-helmet contact ‘ rule on the quarterback. That’s 15 yards and a first down, can you say momentum shift? Yes, you can. Also, “The Brady Rule” was created in 2008 after Tom Brady had a season-ending injury for being tackled at the knees. Not trying to go there or beat a dead horse, however, what if Montana had that luxury? Oh wait, let me stop, because this isn’t another Brady versus Montana article.

On a Niners Live side note: Joe Montana is at home as sure as I’m writing this article right now, (wait for it) word is his wife said he does call himself the GOAT. #dropsthemike #joeisthegreatest

As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.  

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author Jonathan Armstead new Staff Writer at Niners Live, Co-Author, Editor Niners Live,