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Joe, Steve and the HOF elephant in the room



For six years, Joe Montana and Steve young shared a spot on the San Francisco 49ers roster (1987-1992 seasons).

By the time I came of age to be a complete Niner fan, Joe was gone, Steve was the man, and there would be no quarterback controversy to speak of for years.

So, I've become a bit of a history buff on this epic quarterback controversy recently, and have yet to hear of any as intense, or long, as this one.

Through the many videos, articles, and even books, one point that gets brought up again and again, is how the two stayed generally cordial throughout.

"People always think that we fought," Young said. "We never had a cross word, never had an argument, and I've always said to people that it went as well as it possibly could with two hypercompetitive people. But it wasn't easy; it was difficult, difficult for both of us."

Yet, behind the scenes political moves were being executed on both sides.

[Even within the confines of the team's facilities, passive-aggressive warfare was employed. Both lobbied for more repetitions in practice, then complained to third-string quarterback John Paye while their competition ran the offense. And when Paye wasn't either man's confidant, the media was.

That season, a member of the press was pulled aside by Montana, who said that Young had covertly erased portions of practice film in which Young threw a bad pass or made the wrong read. Within a week, Young pulled aside that same person to inform them that Montana was spreading false rumors about him erasing practice films to hide mistakes from the coaching staff.]*

Of course they both wanted to start, and that meant the other had to lose this 'quarterback controversy'.

"We're friends, Steve and I," Montana said. "But out on the practice field, if he doesn't hate me as much as I hate him, then there's something wrong."

Wonder if Smith aggress with that ^... Or, Montana of this…

"In my opinion, if you can't be happy for your teammate's success, you're playing the wrong sport," Smith said today, his first media appearance in a week. "Go play tennis or golf or something. It's ridiculous, I think. That doesn't belong in team sports, in my opinion."

So, obviously I'm starting this thread because of our recent 2012 quarterback flip. More specifically though, I had a hard time enjoying the Saint's game yesterday… turns out I can't have my cake and eat it too. I honestly had to turn my head every time they'd show Smith on the sidelines chewing on his mouthpiece like he was on crack…

But, I'm hoping this thread won't turn into a CK/Smith thread.

I want to know from older 49er fans who went through that period what it was like, if you ever had similar feelings, I'd sincerely like to hear some of your stories/feelings from that time. Or anyone's thoughts really, regardless if you're like me and just read about it.

* Best of Rivals: Joe Montana, Steve Young, and the Inside Story behind the NFL's Greatest Quarterback Controversy
[ Edited by stillpans4gold on Nov 26, 2012 at 11:44 AM ]
I know people get really emotional and a bit covetous when comparing modern Niner QBs/teams to the dynasty of the '80/'90s. I don't mean to lump them together when talking about them in comparison.

They both stand-alone as their own piece of history, but both stand in 49ers uniforms as well;-)

How much of this QB controversy was the story in the late '80s? No Internet back then, but were people still talking about it more than any other team issues? Were 49ers' wins dragging the baggage of this story?

Now, this QB issues seems to be 90% of the story. I'd venture to say the 'QB thread' has been getting about that percent of the traffic… any data on that mods?

All I remember of that controversy was my uncle and my dad talking about how Steve might get traded to the Raiders, and how that might be best for the team, to get over the drama. BUT, it didn't seem like it was hurting them THAT much, they won 2 SB while Steve and Joe were on the same roster.
Originally posted by DaDivaRecieva15:
Focused or concussed ?
Surprisingly I wasn't as loyal to Montana as I thought I would be at the time. Just like some here are willing to move on from Smith to Kaep. Part of that was I think 2 fold. I was younger and seeing in Steve the ability to run and throw was so damn exciting. I haven't really seen anyone like that before at the time. We all know Joe was steady, cool, and money. In big games you want none other.

I think it parallel very well with what's been happening. One aspect that made it easier was you can see Joe was getting older. He seemed to have only a few years left. Even after he returned from his injury. And we got so many games from Young to make that decision for ourselves. Where as with Kaep we currently only have 2.5 games.

Seeing Joe beating us as a Chief. The incredible duel on MNF against Elways and the Broncos --loved it-- but it kills me at the same time. Even the team didn't transition well. There were guys that wanted Montana not Young. And seeing how a sure HOF and the face of the NIners got traded like that just got them in a bad way. It took Young at least a year after starting to settled down the rest of the guys on the team.

I don't see that with this team currently which is good, because you don't want the team divided like that. Especially on a SB run.

So I understand the excitement of Kaep's play. But in the end you may not go wrong with either Smith or Kaep. But I know for sure both guys need help to get to the SB. Because even Joe and Steve as good as they were needed it too.
[ Edited by qnnhan7 on Nov 26, 2012 at 12:19 PM ]
Very different situation. Joe had already won 2 titles before Steve ever got there and had already earned the status of legend, much less, the undisputed starter. So the loyalty factor for Joe was based on championships, SB MVPs, Pro Bowls, All-Pro honors, etc. To the Joe fans, Steve was never going to be accepted until he proved he could do the same or better...talk about a high bar!

Seems to me the Smith/Kap controversy is more about personal investments. The Alex supporters have invested a lot of energy and many years defending his play and are now starting to see their loyalty pay off with Alex's solid play over the last year and a half. Same with the Alex haters...they're using Kap's recent accomplishments to bash Smith, when the truth is, both QBs can win with the formula Harbaugh has crafted (killer defense, physical run game, smart QB play).
[ Edited by GhostofFredDean74 on Nov 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM ]
Originally posted by qnnhan7:
Surprisingly I wasn't as loyal to Montana as I thought I would be at the time. Just like some here are willing to move on from Smith to Kaep. Part of that was I think 2 fold. I was younger and seeing in Steve the ability to run and throw was so damn exciting. I haven't really seen anyone like that before at the time. We all know Joe was steady, cool, and money. In big games you want none other.

I think it parallel very well with what's been happening. One aspect that made it easier was you can see Joe was getting older. He seemed to have only a few years left. Even after he returned from his injury. And we got so many games from Young to make that decision for ourselves. Where as with Kaep we currently only have 2.5 games.

Seeing Joe beating us as a Chief. The incredible duel on MNF against Elways and the Broncos --loved it-- but it kills me at the same time. Even the team didn't transition well. There were guys that wanted Montana not Young. And seeing how a sure HOF and the face of the NIners got traded like that just got them in a bad way. It took Young at least a year after starting to settled down the rest of the guys on the team.

I don't see that with this team currently which is good, because you don't want the team divided like that. Especially on a SB run.

So I understand the excitement of Kaep's play. But in the end you may not go wrong with either Smith or Kaep. But I know for sure both guys need help to get to the SB. Because even Joe and Steve as good as they were needed it too.

Steve young is my favorite athlete of all time, he's also the reason I became a huge 49ers fan. One of my earliest memories is getting his autograph in a mall in 1989 when I was 5 years old. I absolutely loved an athletic QB that could also hurt you with his feet. His scramble against the Vikings in '88 (I think) Is one of my favorite plays of all time. It's no surprise I'm goggly-eyed over Kaep.

On the other hand, since I've been a devoted niner fan, the greatest moment/game I've ever experienced was last years playoff game vs. that saints.

looking back at the Montana-Young years, it just makes me think that there's no way that would go on as long today. At this point, I really can't see both Kaep and Smith on our roster for 2013. Also, they'll BOTH be underpaid at seasons end.

Oh man, That chiefs game! I remember seeing my mom, who was a huge Niner fan, cheer when Joe scored! I was 8-or-9 at the time and I remember being mad at her!!!
Originally posted by GhostofFredDean74:
Very different situation. Joe had already won 2 titles before Steve ever got there and had already earned the status of legend, much less, the undisputed starter. So the loyalty factor for Joe was based on championships, SB MVPs, Pro Bowls, All-Pro honors, etc. To the Joe fans, Steve was never going to be accepted until he proved he could do the same or better...talk about a high bar!

Seems to me the Smith/Kap controversy is more about personal investments. The Alex supporters have invested a lot of energy and many years defending his play and are now starting to see their loyalty pay off with Alex's solid play over the last year and a half. Same with the Alex haters...they're using Kap's recent accomplishments to bash Smith, when the truth is, both QBs can win with the formula Harbaugh has crafted (killer defense, physical run game, smart QB play).

Yeah, very different situation. Think of it this way, there wasn't a so-called, "Anti-joe" crowd before before (or after) Youngs arrival. There also wasn't a webzone. But, there isn't an "anti-gore" label either. Maybe talk about moving on, as he's getting old (although that's pretty much a dead topic with his performance this year).
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Originally posted by stillpans4gold:


For six years, Joe Montana and Steve young shared a spot on the San Francisco 49ers roster (1987-1992 seasons).

By the time I came of age to be a complete Niner fan, Joe was gone, Steve was the man, and there would be no quarterback controversy to speak of for years.

So, I've become a bit of a history buff on this epic quarterback controversy recently, and have yet to hear of any as intense, or long, as this one.

Through the many videos, articles, and even books, one point that gets brought up again and again, is how the two stayed generally cordial throughout.

"People always think that we fought," Young said. "We never had a cross word, never had an argument, and I've always said to people that it went as well as it possibly could with two hypercompetitive people. But it wasn't easy; it was difficult, difficult for both of us."

Yet, behind the scenes political moves were being executed on both sides.

[Even within the confines of the team's facilities, passive-aggressive warfare was employed. Both lobbied for more repetitions in practice, then complained to third-string quarterback John Paye while their competition ran the offense. And when Paye wasn't either man's confidant, the media was.

That season, a member of the press was pulled aside by Montana, who said that Young had covertly erased portions of practice film in which Young threw a bad pass or made the wrong read. Within a week, Young pulled aside that same person to inform them that Montana was spreading false rumors about him erasing practice films to hide mistakes from the coaching staff.]*

Of course they both wanted to start, and that meant the other had to lose this 'quarterback controversy'.

"We're friends, Steve and I," Montana said. "But out on the practice field, if he doesn't hate me as much as I hate him, then there's something wrong."

Wonder if Smith aggress with that ^... Or, Montana of this…

"In my opinion, if you can't be happy for your teammate's success, you're playing the wrong sport," Smith said today, his first media appearance in a week. "Go play tennis or golf or something. It's ridiculous, I think. That doesn't belong in team sports, in my opinion."

So, obviously I'm starting this thread because of our recent 2012 quarterback flip. More specifically though, I had a hard time enjoying the Saint's game yesterday… turns out I can't have my cake and eat it too. I honestly had to turn my head every time they'd show Smith on the sidelines chewing on his mouthpiece like he was on crack…

But, I'm hoping this thread won't turn into a CK/Smith thread.

I want to know from older 49er fans who went through that period what it was like, if you ever had similar feelings, I'd sincerely like to hear some of your stories/feelings from that time. Or anyone's thoughts really, regardless if you're like me and just read about it.

* Best of Rivals: Joe Montana, Steve Young, and the Inside Story behind the NFL's Greatest Quarterback Controversy
this is exactly what I want to know.
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Originally posted by GhostofFredDean74:
Very different situation. Joe had already won 2 titles before Steve ever got there and had already earned the status of legend, much less, the undisputed starter. So the loyalty factor for Joe was based on championships, SB MVPs, Pro Bowls, All-Pro honors, etc. To the Joe fans, Steve was never going to be accepted until he proved he could do the same or better...talk about a high bar!

Seems to me the Smith/Kap controversy is more about personal investments. The Alex supporters have invested a lot of energy and many years defending his play and are now starting to see their loyalty pay off with Alex's solid play over the last year and a half. Same with the Alex haters...they're using Kap's recent accomplishments to bash Smith, when the truth is, both QBs can win with the formula Harbaugh has crafted (killer defense, physical run game, smart QB play).
I think this sums up why I felt the way I did yesterday. I am super happy the team won, but it killed me to see Alex with his helmet on. Only God and Jim know who will start next week but come next week I will be cheering for whom ever lines up under Center.
I was pretty young around 10 years old when Steve came on the scene and I remember wanting him to be the guy. I loved Joe but it felt like his time was coming to an end soon because he was getting beat up and getting older. I think around the time we lost to Minnesota in the playoffs I was ready for Steve. I was just a kid though. That's just how I felt. My Dad and many others were huge Montana fans all the way, even when he went to KC. Joe could win the the Big Game and Steve would be a choker was the vibe.
Originally posted by Muggins:
I was pretty young around 10 years old when Steve came on the scene and I remember wanting him to be the guy. I loved Joe but it felt like his time was coming to an end soon because he was getting beat up and getting older. I think around the time we lost to Minnesota in the playoffs I was ready for Steve. I was just a kid though. That's just how I felt. My Dad and many others were huge Montana fans all the way, even when he went to KC. Joe could win the the Big Game and Steve would be a choker was the vibe.

I was a huge Montana fan as well, but once he left, he was the enemy to me. I never understood the whole loyalty to players thing....players, coaches, etc., they all come and go, but it's this team that endures and that's who I root for.
Originally posted by Muggins:
I was pretty young around 10 years old when Steve came on the scene and I remember wanting him to be the guy. I loved Joe but it felt like his time was coming to an end soon because he was getting beat up and getting older. I think around the time we lost to Minnesota in the playoffs I was ready for Steve. I was just a kid though. That's just how I felt. My Dad and many others were huge Montana fans all the way, even when he went to KC. Joe could win the the Big Game and Steve would be a choker was the vibe.

1987?!!! Dude!
I was 16 at the time. I remember being furious that they had let Montana go. I remember thinking there was no loyalty in sports. At the time, my perception wasnt that Young had outperformed Montana, it was more that Young had more career in front of him and had it was no longer an option to keep both of them. Montana was starting to show his age, and, if i recall, his back (elbow?) was giving him lots of trouble. The NFL was entering the free-for-all-golden-age of Free agency, and the money was just better spent on big name free agents. Haley, Sanders, etc. I like to look back now and be grateful that I watched two great players. How many times has one hall of famer, been followed by another hall of famer? For the record, i dont think much of this is about Smith, i think its about what they get with Kaep. Go Niners.
I was a casual football fan with no particular favorite football team to speak of that is, until Joe and the Niners beat the Cowboys in the 1981-82 NFC championship. Joe made mistakes in that game that should have cost the Niners a trip to the superbowl. However, great defense plus Joe's nerves of steel prevailed. Joe had the it factor. I was hooked. Joe made me a Niner fan. People like to talk about Young's mobility. Yeah SY was a pretty athletic dude but Joe was no slouch either, especially before his back injury during the 1986 season. Also, remember that Joe won two superbowls without the likes of Charles Haley, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Tom Rathman and Brent Jones. Drill that in your heads when you compare Joe (who is God) to SY.
[ Edited by JoeisGod on Nov 26, 2012 at 2:35 PM ]