It’s not every day you get the opportunity to talk with arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history. On Wednesday, the Spun sat down with four-time Super Bowl champion Joe Montana for a 1-on-1 interview.
Montana graciously spoke about one of his new ventures as a brand ambassador for the partnership between his alma mater Notre Dame and Guinness, as well as his a variety of other topics. Below, he shares his thoughts on Tom Brady and his new team, current Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book, the next steps for Jimmy Garappolo and more.
Check it out:
The Spun: Joe, thanks for taking time out and joining us today. First things first, can you get into a little bit of this new partnership with Guinness and Notre Dame and your role in it?
Joe Montana: I’m an ambassador in this partnership. It was brought to me as two great traditions getting together, with a lot of things in common. When you look at the heritage of both and them, they are long and extensive. A lot of the same values go between Notre Dame and Guinness.
The Spun: Are you a Guinness drinker yourself?
JM: I learned to love Guinness many years ago. We actually went to Ireland to look at some jumping horses. We had our daughters and our trainers talked us into going over there. Our daughter and my wife were jumping and one trainer one day said ‘Hey man, it’s hot. When they’re done doing this, let’s go get a pint of Guinness.’ So off we went.
After the first one, I used to pester him, ‘Come on Charlie, it’s time for a Guinness. They can jump by themselves. So I thought it was a great combination between the two and a natural connection.
The Spun: Jumping right into college football, obviously all of the talk is about the Big Ten and the Pac-12’s decision to postpone until the spring. What advice would you give to highly-touted QBs like Ohio State’s Justin Fields or even Trey Lance [of FCS North Dakota State] as they prepare for the NFL Draft without games this fall?
JM: I think you just have to keep working. Keep working out. Gather those receivers and do as much as you can. I’m sure the NFL will find ways to add a combine or two or other ways to get looks at them.
The seniors are the guys you feel bad for. Because if you look at Joe Burrow, if he didn’t have his senior year, he’s not the first pick in the draft by any means. I understand the importance of wanting to play and trying to play but those guys just have to find some way of staying in good throwing shape, because that’s what they’re going to want to see when they get those guys in.
The Spun: When you look at Notre Dame in particular with Ian Book, what have you seen from him watching him develop the last couple of years? If they play this season, what do you think he needs to show to take that next step and impress NFL scouts?
JM: The thing that I like about him is when you look at some of the guys they brought in at quarterback before under Coach Kelly, a lot of them were as much of a runner as anything else. I think he’s more of a traditional-style quarterback. He’ll take off and run and you’ll run some stuff with him but he’s more the type that would fit in to an NFL-type offense.
I think the biggest thing that they look for getting into the NFL is accuracy. How well can you throw the ball under pressure, in big games, whatever it is. He just has to find a way in being a little more accurate. They want to see him take control of those teams. It’s a big ask to take a team like Notre Dame on your back, but I think that’s part of the intangible parts from that position. Sometimes those outweigh all the others. I would say work on accuracy and throwing and try to be a leader while being yourself.
The Spun: The big story line in the NFL this offseason was Tom Brady going to the Tampa Bay Bucs. You know a little something about being a legendary QB switching teams late in his career. What was your experience like in Kansas City and what would you recommend Tom do with his new team?
JM: My experience in Kansas City was tremendous. I wouldn’t trade it. Did I want to leave San Francisco? No, but when I got to Kansas City, I was all-in. The fans were all-in. That’s one of the craziest places to play.
When you get there [a new place] it’s always a little nerve-wracking when you first walk in, no matter how much success you’ve had. You’re in there with a new team. You know some of the guys but you don’t really know them. All he has to do is just be himself. They just want to see that he can still play, and obviously he still can.
I think what you’re gonna see [in Tampa] is him have a little more control of some of the things on the offensive side. I would imagine that’s why he chose there. I still to this day don’t understand why New England let him get away. It’s not like he was on a downswing. He could be–maybe there’s some things they saw that I haven’t seen.
The Spun: With NFL quarterbacks right now it seems like there’s the tier of established veteran stars–Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Wilson etc.–and younger guys who have exploded like Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. Are there any quarterbacks you like that you see breaking into that stratosphere soon?
JM: Off the top of my head, those guys stand out, the two that you mentioned [Jackson and Mahomes]. Obviously, Mahomes just won the Super Bowl. But both of those guys are different cats.
Lamar, while he’s a great runner, he’s also a great pocket thrower. I think that you have to be able to do that to make it in the NFL. I don’t care what system you come out of, you’re going to end up in there [the pocket]. I think that’s why a lot of the read option guys don’t make it. It drives me crazy every time I watch college football, and they’re running read option or whatever, and all of a sudden you see everybody turn and look to the sideline. They’re telling them the play; they’re telling them the defense. The QB doesn’t learn. You can’t learn how to read the defense when you get to the NFL. It’s too late. That’s why those guys will come in and have a great year and then next thing you know, they keep you in the pocket and you’re not the same player. You’re not into anticipating defenses or reading what the keys are. You don’t even study film the same way. When you look at a lot of those guys in college, they’re throwing to guys that are wide-open, and wide-open is not wide-open anymore.
The Spun: Last question from us–when you look at your former team in San Francisco and you see Jimmy Garoppolo, there was some talk about them adding Tom Brady in the offseason. They stuck with Jimmy G. Kyle Shanahan said he thinks there’s more there for him to tap into. What have you seen from him and what does he need to do to get to the next level?
JM: Well, I think he has to convince them that he has the ability to take the team on his shoulders. Everybody talks about the Super Bowl and how he missed the throw. Everybody misses throw. It’s what you do the next one. But still, he came back, and before that, he forced the Chiefs to have to go down and score. Did they complete the comeback themselves? No, they didn’t and that was a big play.
I think they protected him a lot. They didn’t let him really have as much freedom in that offense or put as much trust in the playcalling and putting it on him. At some point in time they have to turn him loose.