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At Notre Dame Joe Montana was once a third-string quaterback behind Rusty Lisch and Gary Forystek. His high school coach benched him because he didn't want to practice football during the offseason but wanted to play baseball instead.
Montana went from third string to greatness. He led the San Francisco 49'ers to four Super Bowl Championships, in 1982, 1985, 1989 and 1990. He became the only NFL player to ever win three MVP awards in a Super Bowl, and the one year he didn't win an MVP, he led the 49'ers on a come from behind drive with about three minutes remaining to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 20-16 with 32 seconds left in the Super Bowl in 1989.
He always showed he had ability. After his high school coach benched him he moved a tight end to quarterback, the player didn't have nearly the talent of Montana. Joe was again made starting quarterback, and his team didn't lose another game that year.
In college Dan Devine always turned to Montana when the team was behind, and he usually delivered with many come from behind victories. For a long time, Montana still wasn't the starter, however. Finally, in his sophomore year he became the starter.
Montana had hypothermia during the 1979 Cotton Bowl and couldn't even go back to the game after halftime. He was fed chicken soup, however, and he was able to return near the end of the third quarter, with his team trailing Houston 34-12. Montana was able to rally the team for a 35-34 victory.
Even with his success at Notre Dame, which included a national championship his senior year, a lot of football "experts" still didn't believe in Joe Montana. He wasn't selected until the third round.
"A lot of people worried about him because he didn't have big legs and a big arm; all he did was move the ball and get touchdowns," George Young, the NFL's Senior Vice President of Football Operations recalled. At the time Montana came out of college, Young could have drafted Montana for the New York Giants but didn't. He took Phil Simms instead.
"I don't think the personnel community was too bright,"Young said.
"There have been and will be much better arms and legs and much better bodies on quarterbacks in the NFL," former teammate Randy Cross said of Montana. "But if you have to win a game, or score a touchdown or win a championship, the only guy to get is Joe Montana."
Montana has said one of the most important elements in winning is desire. Maybe the ability to dream helps too.
"That drive (in the 1989 Super Bowl) was something I had done many times in my backyard," Montana said in an interview on MSNBC. "You accomplish a lot of things in your backyard. I won a bunch of Super Bowls by the time I was 9."
Montana was known for his ability to rally his team from behind and was known as the "comeback kid." He led his team to 31 fourth quarter comebacks.
In his four Super Bowls, Montana was 83-122 passing for 68% and 1,142 yards. He had 11 touchdowns and no interceptions, with a quarterback rating of 127.8.
For his career Montana was 2,929 for 4,600 passing with 244 touchdowns. He had 35, 300 yards passing games and threw for 35,142 yards.
Joe Montana may have started as a third-string player. He may have been benched in high school, but he will always be remembered as a first-class quarterback.
He was injured in October of 1991 and was traded to Kansas City in April 1993. After playing in eight Pro Bowls, he retired at the end of the 1994 season.