Tom Brady isn’t the first Hall of Fame quarterback to change teams late in his career. After all, Joe Montana spent the first 14 seasons of his career in San Francisco, winning four Super Bowls in the process. But he spent the final two seasons of his career – 1993-94 – in Kansas City.
There’s a reason for that.
Montana was injured in the 1990 NFC Championship against the New York Giants, this after a vicious sack from Leonard Marshall. The 49ers, who were vying for their third straight Super Bowl title, lost 15-13.
Montana missed the 1991 season. When he returned, Steve Young had taken his job.
“No, it’s not the hit; it was the process that took place after that and how it was handled,” Montana said on The DA Show, reflecting on the what-ifs of that sequence. “The whole transition to Steve, I think, was the most difficult part when I wasn’t afforded even to compete for the job. I was Player of the Year, we were on the way to a third Super Bowl when I got hurt . . . and somehow that changed along the way.”
In 1990, Montana threw for 3,944 yards, 26 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He had a good season.
“Not to be afforded at least an opportunity to compete for the job, I think, was the most difficult part,” he said. “I could understand if I had had a bad year, but statistically, I just had one of the better years of my career that year, and the two prior to that, we won two Super Bowls. I just thought that the way it was handled was not done properly the way it should have been.”
Montana led the Chiefs to the playoffs in each of his two seasons in Kansas City. In 1993, they reached the AFC Championship, ultimately losing to Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills.
“When you’re in this league and you get hurt and you’re a starter, unless you’re not 100 percent when you come back, you usually get your job back – and I wasn’t even asking for that,” Montana said. “I just wanted to be able to compete, and they said they wouldn’t let me do that. That’s when I knew I had to move on because I didn’t want to finish my career on the bench.”