Happy Birthday Joe Montana!
On June 11, 1956, Joseph Clifford Montana Jr. was born in New Eagle, Pennsylvania, home state to some of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, including Dan Marino and Johnny Unitas.
By age 20, Montana was a National Champion as the starting QB for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Two years later Montana was named MVP of the Cotton Bowl in what was later referred to as the “Chicken Soup Bowl”, as Montana was fed chicken soup during halftime after suffering from hypothermia. Trailing 34-12, Montana led a come-from behind win with the final pass of his collegiate career being a touchdown as time expired.
Drafted in the 3rd round of the 1979 Draft, Montana was inserted into key starting spots by head coach Bill Walsh, sometimes entering only to finishing off games.
Midway through the 1980 season, Montana became the starter and by 1981, the 49ers were in the NFC Title game against the Dallas Cowboys. After a last minute come from behind win, capped off with “The Catch”, the legend of Joe Cool was born.
In 14 seasons with San Francisco, Montana led the 49ers to four Super Bowl championships, was named Super Bowl MVP three times, and won league MVP twice.
In April of 1993, Montana was traded to Kansas City where in his first season, he showcased his legendary coolness in guiding the Chiefs to a pair of come-from-behind playoff wins en route to an appearance in the AFC Title game.
Montana retired following the 1994 season, but not before leaving the NFL with one last taste of his greatness.
On a Monday Night in Colorado in old Mile High Stadium, Montana squared off against John Elway in one of the greatest and still most talked about games in MNF history.
Trailing 28-24 with 1:29 left to play in a stadium that was literally rocking as the ecstatic Denver crowd was jumping from their seats on what was to be the final drive of the game, Montana, in all his coolness, led the Chiefs methodically down field, tiring the Denver crowd and delighting the football world, first down after first down.
A pass over the middle hitting tight end Tracy Greene right between the 8 and 7 on his jersey, put the ball at the Broncos 5-yard line with 13-seconds left. After a Kansas City timeout, Montana hit wide receiver Willie Davis who stretched out to make a catch short of the end zone, but in one motion, Davis was able to bring back both his feet across the end zone before being pushed out of bounds for what turned out to be the game winning touchdown pass in a Chiefs 31-28 victory.
Some of us were fortunate enough to have witnessed, perhaps in person or on the television “Montana Magic”.
I myself never saw Joe Cool in person, but I will never forget that MNF game.
Thank you for the memories, and Happy Birthday Joe Montana. You were the greatest QB to ever play the game of football.