If you judge quarterbacks by their size or their physical abilities or their numbers, Joe Montana doesn’t stack up very well except for his numbers. But if you judge quarterbacks by how well they play in big games and how they do when the game is on the line and how they play the game, then you are going to have an impossible time finding a list of quarterbacks who you could even compare with Joe Montana as far as great quarterbacks. The list would be like two quarterbacks at least as far as I’m concern. John Unitas and John Elway and perhaps Otto Graham as well and that’s about it.
Some QB’s have a nice run 5-6 years where they do well and then you can say they are one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Rich Gannon comes to mind with the Oakland Raiders. And then there are quarterbacks who may have a short run of greatness, but accomplish so much in that period that it lands them in the Hall of Fame. Terry Bradshaw comes to mind with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But it’s hard to find many if anyone who were as great as Joe Montana for as long as Montana in the history of the NFL.
When I think of Joe Montana I think of the QB who played for the best team and the best head coach of his era. The San Francisco 49ers playing for the best offense and playing with a great defense where he for the most part didn’t have to win games on his own. Joe Cool was a possession passer who would beat you with play after play, pass after pass. And when the defense got tired of that and came after Joe, he could go deep on the defense with wide receivers like Jerry Rice or John Taylor.
And earlier Joe had Freddie Solomon and Dwight Clark. So if you want to play press coverage against Joe and the 49ers, now you are at risk of giving up the deep pass against the 49ers. Because their West Coast offense always had the deep threat in guys who would look for the big play. Especially against press coverage which is what made this offense so great because it forced defenses to defend the whole field. Short, middle and deep and Joe was the best at running this offense.
What separates Joe Cool from anyone as far as quarterbacks again except for John Unitas and John Elway, you could make a very good case for any of these three quarterbacks as the best all-time, is they all played a long time, but they were all great quarterbacks for a long time and how well they played in the big games for as long as they did. A lot of quarterbacks hang around and stay in the league for a long time. But it’s the special quarterbacks that are not just in the league forever as it may seem, but they are great QB’s for so long. Winning so many games and championships and that’s the type of QB Joe Cool was.