Joe Montana is considered one of the best quarterbacks that had set foot in the US National Football League (NFL) after a 15-season career that ended in 1995 when he publicly announced his retirement.
Montana won four Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers and earned dozens of awards, including the MVP of the match on three occasions. In 2020, he became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame – a happy ending to a long and fruitful career.
In this article, we look at Joe’s beginnings, his career, and everything he achieved during his many years in the NFL as the star quarterback of the Niner Gang.
Pennsylvania: Where it all started
Joe Montana was born in 1932 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Monongahela and came from a family of native Italians who migrated to North America. Even though he was more attracted to basketball in his early years, he joined his high school football team and eventually became the starting quarterback.
He was offered a scholarship at the University of Notre Dame and started his college career. This college team had won the NCAA National Championship a year before Joe’s arrival.
Under the leadership of coach Dan Devine, Montana climbed the ladder from the third quarterback to lead. In 1978, he helped Notre Dame win the Cotton Bowl in a historic match against the Houston Cougars.
After graduating, Montana was drafted by the 49ers during the third round and was the fourth quarterback picked by the team.
From backup to NFL star
The first season was not flashy for Montana, as he hardly saw any action with the 49ers. However, things started to change in 1981 when he became the team’s starting quarterback. That particular season marked the beginning of Joe’s path to stardom and propelled him to a career full of wins.
According to statistics from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Montana hold the record for most consecutive passes completed in a single game with 22 on two occasions – one against Cleveland and the other against Green Bay.
“Joe Cool,” as he is also known, also holds the record for the highest number of consecutive games with 30 or more yards passing with a streak of 5. His many appearances at the Super Bowl also allowed him to set several records in the competition, including the highest number of passes completed and the most touchdown passes during his whole career.
Montana is the fifth quarterback in history to make more than 40,000 yards passes. He also has a career passer rating of 92.3 – the second-highest of all time.
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The End of an Era at the Chiefs
In 1993, Joe Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he spent his last two seasons playing as a professional. He signed a $10 million contract for three years with the team, but he was injured during the starting season.
Montana played in full health during the 1994 season. He helped the team win the AFC Championship Game to end what was a highly fruitful career.
In his enshrinement speech, Joe referred to this particular moment of his life: “I got an opportunity to go on to what I thought was another great, great organization in the Kansas City Chiefs. Marty Schottenheimer and Carl Peterson, who I see here. Lamar Hunt, for that opportunity to continue a career while many people were ready to give up on me.”
Joe did not greet his ascent to the Hall of Fame as good news as he referred to the award as if he was alive in a coffin and other people were throwing dirt at him while he was trying to get out.
However, he acknowledged that it was a tremendous honor to join a team full of NFL stars he looked up to for many, many years and with whom he will have the chance to share many bright occasions in the future as a member of this exclusive group.
“I‘ve now seen the light, that this is not an ending point, this is a beginning point. This is the beginning of the rest of my life, post-career, with a new team. And take a look at these guys, what a team it is. Now granted, some of them are on the ugly side, but I can’t help that. Try to do the best we can with them. But it is truly an honor to have spent these last few days with these guys, people that I’ve looked up to all of my life.”, Montana concluded.
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