In the eyes of some football fans, Tom Brady's latest Super Bowl victory has cemented him as the greatest quarterback of all time. Don't tell that to San Francisco 49ers fans. They remember a great quarterback named Joe Montana. Montana's 49ers never trailed by more than a touchdown in a Super Bowl. Brady's latest victory came after New England trailed by 25 in the third quarter. Montana's Super Bowl statistics could endorse his greatness. Many fans will argue that Brady has played in an era that very much favors quarterbacks. Montana did not play with many of the rules created to protect the game's most valuable players.
Regardless of which side you take in the argument, everyone can agree that each quarterback dominated their respective eras. On Friday, Montana appeared on the Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family" show and was not ready to declare Brady as the greatest ever.
"He's obviously having this great career, but I just think that it's hard to put anyone in that bucket," Montana said. "Even before he got five, you look back at some of the guys that some people don't even know, Sammy Baugh or Otto Graham … (Graham) won like seven championships. They were so far ahead of their time. It's hard to compare guys from then to now, and how they would compare here and how we would compare back then."
It was an excellent point by Montana and kudos to him for throwing out names like Baugh and Graham. When it was brought up that some call him the greatest of all time, Montana said, "Even though people say that — and I appreciate that — I still can't say that about myself."
Montana's wife, Jennifer, jumped in and ratted out the former quarterback. "At home, you're saying that all the time," she said as everyone on the set laughed. "We are reminded constantly."
The whole conversation seemed innocent enough and, if what Montana's wife said is true, he did the classy thing by trying to avoid anointing a "greatest of all time" on the air. However, one person took great offense to what Montana had to say – or more accurately, what he refused to say – during the innocent interview.
Michael Felger is a sports radio talk show host in Boston. Following the Hallmark Channel interview, he went on the air and criticized Montana. "A quick message for Joe Montana, who recently refused to acknowledge that Tom Brady is the best of all time," Felger said. "Show some class, Joe. For one, the debate is over. [Brady is] better. Two, I ask you, 'What would Tom Brady say if he were asked the exact same question?' He would say it was you Joe. He would say that you were the best even though you haven't exactly been there for him over the years, have you? Including on Deflategate. And you know why Brady would do that? Because he has class. You should get some."
The irony is somewhat humorous considering that Montana was trying to do the classy thing by not lobbying for himself in the argument. It wasn't as if Montana declared himself as the greatest ever while on the air. For that, Montana gets called "classless."
As for what Brady himself would say of Montana? Felger was absolutely correct on at least one thing. The Patriots quarterback holds Montana in very high regard. "I don't ever see myself like him," Brady said in November to Bay Area reporters prior to the 49ers' game against the Patriots. "He was so spectacular. I think he's in a league of his own."
"He was a winner," Brady continued. "Every time he took the field, it felt like the 49ers were going to win. I remember rooting for that team when Joe was playing quarterback and you always felt that they were going to win no matter who they were playing, where they were playing at."
As for Felger, he has the right to voice his opinion but comes off poorly when it criticizes a former great for what he didn't say. Of course, this is the guy who criticized Boston Celtics center Al Horford for missing a game to be there with his wife following what Felger called the "generic" birth of his child.
(h/t to Patrick Tulini for the find)