Joe Montana and Tom Brady are two of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, so naturally, there must be some sort of mutual respect between them, right?
Perhaps. A recent profile of Montana, however, would lead you to believe things are a little frostier between them than you might expect, especially given their connections.
Brady grew up idolizing Montana as a San Francisco 49ers fan. He then ascended to the throne, winning seven Super Bowls in a legendary career that ended last week. All along, Brady has praised Montana, talking about growing up rooting for him and how early Niners memories shaped him as a football fan.
You would think Montana, who won all four Super Bowls he played, would be secure with his own legacy, even if Brady has surpassed him as the greatest winner of all time (despite losing three Super Bowls). However, a must-read profile of Montana from ESPN’s Wright Thompson reveals the ferociously competitive Montana took Brady’s chase personally.
Among the highlights from the story:
Thompson writes: “He’s been known to sometimes yell at the television, not so quietly rooting for the Seahawks or Falcons. In an email to me once, Montana called (Brady) ‘the guy in Tampa;’ instead of using his name.“
Montana’s daughter, Elizabeth, to Thompson: “He definitely cares. I don’t think he would own up to caring, but he gets pretty animated at the Tom Brady comparison and is quick to point out th game has changed so much.”
Thompson writes: “Brady liked to text Joe from time to time and talk about breaking his record. Joe laughed but his inner circle quietly bristled.”
And the big one:
“Brady praises Montana as ‘a killer’ in public, but Joe’s friends feel like he’s made little effort to get to know the older player in real life. They have each other’s phone numbers. — friends say he’d be happy if Patrick Mahomes won eight titles — but the truth is, the two men are similar, driven by similar emotions to be great. Ultimately Montana may not care about a ring count, but watching himself get knocked down a spot fires deep powerful impulses and trips old wires even now.“
Again, it’s not terribly surprising to see someone as competitive as Montana, try his best to hold on, especially without that outlet anymore. And as Thompson points out, it wouldn’t be surprising to one day find Brady in a similar spot, although he might be a little harder to catch than his boyhood idol.