Joe Montana was counted out eight years ago when he underwent delicate back surgery. He missed just nine games.
Since then, he’s been driven out of stadiums in ambulances, limped off with concussions and broken hands, undergone more arm surgery than any baseball pitcher and survived the emergence of Steve Young in San Francisco to thrive in Kansas City.
Yet he went out Saturday for the Chiefs at age 38 and completed 26 of 37 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns. OK, so he threw an interception that turned the game around. Everyone’s human.
So, Joe …
Please don’t go.
There still aren’t enough NFL quarterbacks who can put on the show that you and Dan Marino staged in the first half at Joe Robbie Stadium on Saturday: 31 passes, 26 of them complete and three of the incomplete passes were drops.
“Is he a winner? That’s usually the barometer a player uses when he makes the decision to retire,” his coach, Marty Schottenheimer said Sunday.
“Joe is still a winner.”
Wishful thinking? Perhaps.
A former 49er who remains close to Montana said a couple of weeks ago he thought Montana would retire, primarily because wife Jennifer prefers to return to the West Coast. Montana told other friends at the beginning of the season that this year probably would be his last.
On the other hand, despite the bruises of the last two seasons, Montana is still like a little kid playing in the back yard.
“It’s always fun. That’s what the game is all about,” he said after Saturday’s game.
So think of how much fun you’ve had, Joe.
Think of 26 for 37 for 314 yards and two TDs. And think of throwing your 46th and 47th and 48th playoff touchdown passes.
And most of all, remember what you said earlier in the season, just before you went out and handed Young and your old San Francisco teammates one of their three losses this season.
“How would you like to be told while you’re still in your 30s that you can’t do anything you’ve been doing all your life?” he asked. “How would you like to know that what you’ve enjoyed is all over? You wouldn’t like it very much, would you?”
So, Joe, at least wait until you’re 40.