After Sunday, Joe Montana Remains the Greatest Big Game QB of All-Time


As Bill Barnwell’s article makes clear, the longer Tom Brady plays, the more he loses claim to being a big game QB.  And in the spirit of everything being about San Francisco right now (see below), it seems worth pausing to re-vindicate Joe Montana as the greatest big game QB of all-time, with all-time being defined by times that I can think of.

The numbers are pretty obvious. 4-0 in Super Bowls, with no interceptions. In 1990, he threw 11 TDs and 0 Ints in 3 playoff games.  The year before, 8 TDs, 1 Int in 3 playoff games. And he also had a number of other legendary big games that fell short. He threw 3 TDs in the 4th quarter in the NFC championship game against the Redskins in 1983, rallying the Niners from a 21-0 deficit.  Before leaving with an injury in the 1991 NFC championship game, he had the Niners leading and poised to win over the NY Giants.  Of course, bleacher report was saying this two years ago. And they are right. There’s no way around it.

Is there another example of someone who, like Brady, started out so great and then couldn’t repeat?….I’m waiting for my 100 person research staff to provide results….The best I could come up with was Orel Hershiser, but that’s not fair because he was a lot older when he was bombing, and Brady is still in his prime. Same with Montana’s last conference championship game performance when he was no longer a member of the 49ers and went 9-23 for 125 years, an interception and no touchdowns.  What about Karl Rove?

Ray Lewis, however, is definitely the flip-side of Tom Brady when it comes to public reputation.  Here’s a guy who the media goes out of its way to protect. And yet, as we all know–he was clearly involved in the deaths of two men. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in a double-homicide. He won the Super Bowl MVP the next season. (Here’s a nice piece by Jay Busbee documenting it all) How and when did he become a good guy?  And it’s not that I’m opposed to redemption. But when did he ‘redeem’ himself. Instead, it just seems like his redemption came from winning the Super Bowl the next year, and suddenly he’s untouchable. What am I missing?  He’s allowed to move past his past, I just want to know why we are supposed to adore him.  I love the media because it just creates reality as it wants, selectively choosing this from that, and I’m always wondering why.

Back to the positive. On a day in which the Golden State Warriors beat the LA Clippers and are currently in 2nd place, following the 49ers going to the Super Bowl, following Stanford winning the Rose Bowl, following the Giants winning the World Series and the A’s in the AL championship series, following the Cal Bears doing….nothing….Still, with all these young teams performing so well, San Francisco seems poised to be this decade’s Title Town. Boston’s moment, I hate to say, is looking very much 2000 and late.


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