Joe Montana’s Heart of Gold

Joe Montana won four Super Bowls as the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and was the Most Valuable Player in three of the four. The Notre Dame grad was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. Montana is active nowadays  in helping to build awareness about heart disease and, with Amgen, has recently launched the Breakaway from Heart Disease campaign to help Americans take charge of their heart health. 

What inspired you to be a part of launching Breakaway from Heart Disease?
I actually think this is a great partnership for us because Amgen and the Breakaway from Heart Disease partners are the American Heart Association and Schwinn, and what we’re trying to do with the campaign is get the word out about how dangerous this disease is, how preventable it might be and things that you can do to help lower your risk.

Do you have a family history?
I was diagnosed after I retired with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I have a family history behind me on my mother’s side. My grandfather passed away at 54 and two of her siblings had heart attacks in their early 50s, so it was in front of me. I just didn’t want to believe that it was going to happen to me. This is a disease I thought was for people who were 60 or 70 years old.

How can people get involved?
We have great information on the website, breakawayfromheartdisease.com, about cycling events that are coming up and how you can get involved with this project. Hey, if you make the events or the cycling, upload a photograph of you on a bike or on a stationary bike to the website and it triggers a donation to the American Heart Association and also allows you to be a part of a contest to win two Schwinn bicycles.

Switching gears to football talk, what do you think of former UofL quarterback Teddy Bridgewater after his first two seasons with Minnesota?
It’s the best thing that’s happened to Minnesota in a long time on the quarterback side. He’s obviously off to a pretty good start, and he’s a talented young player with a big future ahead of him. He can make all the throws, as they like to say. I like to say, if you made it that far, you don’t have to say that you can make all the throws because obviously you can do it. You don’t need – everybody thinks you have to have this big, strong arm, and you don’t.

Did you get to see him much last season?
He definitely is talented, one of the young up-and-coming guys that’s going to be around for a long time. I look forward to watching him even more. I caught a couple of the games and was really impressed with the way he was able to handle. It’s a tough position to come in early and play at in that league. It was great to see him have success.

Have you seen current UofL quarterback Lamar Jackson?
I have not.

What defenders scared you the most?
No one really scared us. We like to think we scared somebody else. There are only probably two players who we concerned ourselves on where they lined up. One of them was Reggie White and the other one was Lawrence Taylor. They came from different angles, but they were definitely disturbers on the defensive side.

Was there an opposing quarterback who you never liked to leave time on the clock for?
It never concerned me because I didn’t have to play against them. You’d have to ask our defense, but the one thing I know is that we had some pretty good defenses along the way – and I don’t think they were afraid of anybody.

As a former Bengals and current Broncos fan, did you really need to win all those Super Bowls?
I’m sorry, I would have taken another if I could.

I can still remember watching Pete Johnson try to punch it in in the Silverdome in Super Bowl XVI. What stands out about that game to you?
I go back and look at that game, and it was an ugly game on both sides for a while. Just coming out ahead was big not only for me but I think for the organization and the city of San Francisco – to finally get to a Super Bowl and then to go on and win. We beat a pretty good team too in Cincinnati. I think the big play was the stop on fourth down on the one-yard line. VT