Talk of Fame Network
This week the Talk of Fame Network visits with the authors of one of the most famous pass receptions in pro football history – Joe Montana and Dwight Clark – who combined for a play simply known as “The Catch’’ because nothing more has to be said about it.
It was the throw that first caused Montana to be seen as Joe Cool and the one that kept Clark’s image alive long after he hauled in a desperate, last-second throw over Everson Walls to propel the 49ers by the Dallas Cowboys to the first of their four Super Bowl appearances with Montana.
Montana, who seldom does interviews, spent over 20 minutes with our Hall-of-Fame guys discussing that play, life with the 49ers and the shock of realizing his time in the NFL would end not in San Francisco but in Kansas City.
“Every player starts their career believing you’ll never leave the team you’re on,’’ Montana said. “(But) eventually it happens to everybody. I never thought you’d see Jerry Rice play somewhere else. I would rather have stayed in San Francisco. I made the best of it.’’
Montana remains close to former Niners’ owner Eddie DeBartolo, whose Hall-of-Fame candidacy this year he staunchly supports, even though it was DeBartolo, in the end, who had to sign off on his move to Kansas City. That was, Montana recalled, a sad day for them both.
“He and I have been…it’s hard,’’ Montana said as he recalled those final days in San Francisco. “You know there’s something special going, on and it goes on until today. It was a really, really hard decision. He allowed the coach to make the decision. He allowed me my freedom to leave the team and continue my career on the field.’’
He then recalled beating the 49ers in 1994 as the Chiefs’ quarterback and how divided he believes DeBartolo was that day.
“Eddie probably was torn,’’ Montana said. “I wasn’t. I wanted to win. I’m sure Eddie did, too, but I’m sure a little piece of him was torn. It was hard…but he got the ultimate prize in the end (another Super Bowl victory). If he had to lose one he was probably all right with that one.’’
One thing Montana said he was all right with would be facing the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots with any of the four Super Bowl champions he led.
“I’d stack our teams up against anybody,’’ Montana said. “I can’t even imagine being able to turn Jerry Rice and John Taylor free and (them) not getting hit. Not that it makes it easy, but there’s less pressure on the quarterback (today). Any quarterback who wouldn’t want to play now would be crazy. Look at the numbers they’re throwing up.’’
Clark would certainly have loved to play under such circumstances — just as much as he loved serving under DeBartolo first as a player and later in the front office before moving on to become general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Clark was part of the 49ers’ front office when the decision was made to move on from Montana to future Hall-of-Famer Steve Young — a decision, he said, that shattered their relationship for a number of years even though he had minimal input into it.
“I couldn’t believe they wanted to trade Joe Montana,’’ Clark says. “I understood the money, but how could you do that to a four-time Super Bowl champion? I wasn’t in favor of it. He took it like I was. For five or six years there, he and I didn’t talk very much, and he was my best friend. I had to make sure he knew I wasn’t any part of that.’’
What Clark is part of is a legion of DeBartolo supporters. He, like Montana, believes how DeBartolo ran the 49ers changed the way players were treated around the NFL. He points out how Jerry Jones and Bob Kraft, owners of the Cowboys and Patriots, studied the 49er way after they purchased their franchises and modeled them after DeBartolo’s approach.
Not surprisingly, Clark also remains staunchly in the camp of Joe Montana. When asked to compare Tom Brady with Montana Clark joked, “Are we talking about inflated balls or deflated balls?’’ Then he added, “I know Brady gets compared to Joe constantly. Brady’s a winner. But, to me, Joe Montana is the greatest football player ever. I’d take Joe Montana 10 out of 10 times.’’
We feel the same way about our Hall-of-Fame guys, Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge. They tackle the hottest stories of the week, including the suddenly hot play of Johnny Manziel and cold play of the Colts, Seahawks and Eagles, and give you their takes on which 2016 Hall-of-Fame candidates have the best shots of landing in Canton once the automatic spot is cleared for Brett Favre.
Gosselin’s “Dr. Data” segment crunches the numbers and concludes youth remains on the side of the 0-2 Seahawks but not on that of the Chiefs or the Colts, who have the two oldest rosters in the NFL. Ron’s “Borges or Bogus” segment makes the case for playing Manziel in Cleveland, an argument the Browns’ coaching staff apparently didn’t agree with this week.
He also states the Hall-of-Fame case for Mark Bavaro, the former Giants’ tight end who played the position far differently – and far more violently – than it is played today. Joining Ron in that discussion is Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, who has strong feelings about Bavaro.
Then there’s the two-minute drill, where Clark fires a string of questions at the Hall-of-Fame guys while also orchestrating the two-hour show from the host’s desk. All also spend time with New York Daily News football writer and Hall-of-Fame selector Gary Myers, discussing his new book, “Brady vs. Manning – The Untold Story of the Rivalry That Changed the NFL.’’
That and more can be heard on over 80 radio stations around the country, including the Yahoo!Radio Network Wednesday night from 8-10 p.m. Eastern as well as on Sunday mornings 7-9 a.m. It can also be heard on the TuneIn radio app, on iTunes podcasts and talkoffamenetwork.com