Montana speaks at Governor’s Mansion
As the NFL’s career playoff record holder for late-game comebacks, maybe it was appropriate Joe Montana arrived nearly 30 minutes late on Friday for his press conference at the Governor’s Mansion.
Once there, though, Montana spoke mostly about sports, in particular team sports, and how they prepare our youth for life.
“I think sports teaches kids a lot of things about life,” said Montana, who led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl titles. “When your out further on past your sports career, what is life all about? It’s about winning, in some business or another, finally moving up the ladder and getting better and better jobs, working to be the best at what you’re doing. And I don’t think there’s any better way to learn it than sports, especially team sports.”
As the keynote speaker at the 34th annual Governor’s Dinner, the University of Nevada athletic program’s largest fund-raiser of the year, Montana followed a long line of others with NFL ties who’ve also been the event’s keynote speaker. Terry Bradshaw and Mike Ditka. Steve Mariucci and Jon Gruden. But more than the others, Montana expressed how much he misses football.
“I miss Sunday,” said Montana, who was an eight-time pro bowler during his 16-year career with the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. “Sunday is hard to replace. I don’t think there’s anything you can do replace a Sunday afternoon on a football field. You get into the locker room, I can’t explain it, it’s one of the most fun places to be. But it can get ugly. I’ve seen Jerry Rice chase somebody around with a fire extinguisher and you know Jerry’s pretty quiet. But it became a job to me at the end there.”
Montana has been out of the limelight ever since his retirement from Kansas City in 1994, spending time with his wife, Jennifer, and four kids at their home in Santa Rosa, Calif. Even though football has come and gone, his passion for horses remain. And, for now, he doesn’t plan on coaching.
“I really don’t see myself coaching,” said Montana, who led Notre Dame to the 1977 NCAA National Championship “Maybe with kids. Yeah, I could see that. But coaching at the NFL level or college level, I gotta’ be honest, I have four kids, I don’t need 57 more. I got four kids involved in sports right now and I just try to keep up with them.”
But Montana, considered the best clutch quarterback in NFL history with 31 fourth-quarter comebacks, thinks he’d never of had any success in life if not for sports.
“You learn how to deal with people on a day-to-day basis,” Montana said. “You help establish struggles with everybody and at the same time, you have to learn to work together as a unit. I don’t think there are very many occupations out there that deal with that.”
But being a part of a team is also what always pushed him to always get better because he realized there was always somebody behind him who wanted his job.
“I think the biggest thing is you have to learn how to survive. Sports is pretty cut and dry,” Montana said. “When you walk into that locker room, you may talk a lot but the minute you walk out on the field and you can’t back it up, they’ll push you down. They teach you that if you’re going to say something you’re going to have to pay a price. They’ll do everything possible because those people behind you want to play and they’re fighting for a position on a daily basis. It’s the same in the world today. You have a job and somebody wants that job. And if somebody doesn’t want your job, it’s probably not worth having. That’s the No. 1 thing in the United States is competition. Do you wan to compete and do you want to be associated with winning?”
Montana even hinted that winning at all costs, meaning with the use of steroids, will always be there in professional sports, especially if there isn’t any required testing.
“That will always continue as long as everybody wants to win and everybody wants to play,” Montana said of widespread steroid use. “There’s a line and it’s hard to find that line. In the NFL, they started testing for steroids when I was playing. But as long as they don’t test for it, guys will use what they can to make themselves better. They want to be at the top of their game because they know the guy across from them is doing the same thing.”