Joe Montana

San Francisco 49ers ex-star quarterback Joe Montana was just named the starting quarterback for the “Super Bowl 50 Golden Team,” a Pro Football Hall of Fame selection of the players comprising the best overall career performances on the biggest stage. Though some thought the spot ought to go to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, overall the Montana choice is widely accepted: the star quarterback led the 49ers to their first four Super Bowl titles in his legendary career, and left an indelible mark on the Bay Area-based team’s history.

When Montana was first drafted in 1979, he was not seen as a top prospect: though he had led an impressive college football career as Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish quarterback, most scouts remained unsure of his potential. In the 1979 draft’s third round, the Dallas Cowboys (who were placed just ahead of the 49ers) elected not to take Montana, who was the highest-rated player on their board, opting instead for Doug Cosbie. The 49ers got Montana, and thus began the quarterback’s storied career.

Joe Montana was installed as a starter towards the end of his second season, and proved himself to be both accurate and able to stay calm and focused in high-pressure situations. This was perhaps his core strength: even in utmost chaos, with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Montana remained eternally contained and unflappable. He earned himself the reputation of comeback king: though there were much better and stronger bodies on quarterbacks in the NFL, Montana was the man to go to when you needed a win. There are few better examples of this astounding ability to carry his team towards the finish line than the 1989 Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals, where he threw for the winning touchdown with 34 seconds left in the game.

Montana continued to guide the 49ers to an NFL-best 14-2 record in 1990, until his injuries kept him out of nearly two full seasons, after which he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Throughout his exceptional career, the quarterback was twice named the Associated Press MVP and earned eight Pro Bowl selections. He also retired with NFL playoff records for completions, yards and touchdowns. He was easily inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility in 2000, and continues to be looked upon as the greatest quarterback in American history.