Sports | February 5, 2021 10:10 am

Joe Montana’s Made His Super Bowl Pick

The NFL legend on good beer, hosting “SNL” and the folly of overanalyzing football

Joe Montana
Joe Montana in the new Guinness ad
Courtesy of Guinness

“I don’t think they knew I was already a Guinness fan.”

I didn’t expect to be talking beer with Joe Montana, but the legendary San Francisco/Kansas City quarterback has a new ad with the iconic beer brand premiering during the Super Bowl. It’s a pull-at-the-heartstrings, inspiring spot about coming back from adversity and looking toward the future when the best is yet to come. 

While Montana’s won Super Bowls, he also dealt with several injuries over the course of his career, and even had to wait nearly four years to earn a starting job in college — only to then get picked in the third round. And like everyone else, he had to endure the bleakness of 2020.

We caught up on Zoom with Montana this week to discuss beer, his picks for the game and why he’d definitely not survive in today’s NFL. His words — and the new ad — below …

Montana’s a longtime Guinness drinker …

“When my daughters and my wife were jumping horses, we went over to Ireland. One day, one of the trainers said, ‘We need to go get a Guinness.’ And after that, every day, I was like, ‘Charley, isn’t it time for Guinness right about now?’”

… but he truly loves wine.

“I had a wine brand for charity, but it wasn’t bringing in the money we wanted for the children’s foundations in the Bay Area. We also tried to buy a really famous winery, they made a really good Pinot, but we didn’t get it. I have a place in wine country, so I would have liked to stay in [that business].”

Joe Montana
Courtesy of Guinness

The Guinness ads deal with overcoming adversity. For Montana, that adversity was his injuries.

“We could go back to my days at Notre Dame, where I was just fighting to get a job. But there was also my back surgery where I didn’t want to play anymore but my wife Jennifer ridiculed me to get me off my butt. And then there’s this past year. It’s been tough for everyone. But I think the idea of these ads is that we’ve got this. It’s going to get better. We can be resilient.”

Nutrition plans weren’t the same when Joe was playing

“When we moved to a new facility in the 49ers, you still had to search for your lunch. Now they have these big kitchens and full-time nutritionists. When I was playing with Kansas City, I actually put on weight. [Linebacker] Derrick Thomas had a friend who owned a soul food restaurant, and the owner told Derrick I was too skinny to play football. So every morning we’d go into practice and there would be a plate on my chair with fried potatoes, eggs, grits, two fried pork chops, and sausage or bacon. I went from 195 to 208 lbs in a year.”

He’ll watch the Super Bowl. He may not enjoy it.

“I’m not a good spectator. I’d still rather be that guy on the field. I mean, if I could even run from here to my front door, I might still try out (laughs). And I actually sometimes miss watching the game because I’m working. I try to fly out before the game ends, because otherwise the airport is a nightmare.”

Quarterbacks today don’t compare to his generation (but not in the way you think)

“All these guys today are monsters. Have you ever stood next to Cam Newton? That was like the guy chasing me around as a defensive end. And I was never the biggest, strongest or fastest. At the combine now they make you lift 225 from your chest. If I had to do that, I might still be lying there.”

He still fondly remembers his time co-hosting Saturday Night Live during Super Bowl week

“Dana Carvey and that group. Walter Payton was the co-host. Talk about pressure! They practice it once before a live audience and then rewrite everything. It was fun doing the Church Lady and other skits.” [Ed. note: Those other skits include this absolute classic.]

He’s got advice for quarterbacks on the move in 2021

“I don’t see Aaron Rodgers leaving. But I do see Deshaun Watson going … maybe even to San Francisco. Sometimes you need a breath of fresh air. It’s like Tom Brady getting out of his static situation.”

The Super Bowl isn’t going to go like you think

“I’m pulling for the Chiefs, but it’s hard to bet against Brady. I have this feeling it’s surprisingly not going to be high scoring, 38-35 type of game. But I’ve got the Chiefs by 3.”

But we don’t know anything about football. Even Joe Montana.

“This is a strange game. They keep trying to analyze it in different ways. I just go back to the combine — they have linemen running in a square. I’ve never seen a lineman run in a square in my life.”