TSN Archives: Joe Montana, the bottom line (April 24, 1995)

This story, by Bill Plaschke, first appeared in the April 24, 1995, issue of The Sporting News, under the headline “The Bottom Line”. After Joe Montana announced that he was retiring from the NFL, TSN went to those who even if they weren’t his best friends were certainly in closest touch with him during his playing days: his centers, beginning in midget league, junior high and high school, on to Notre Dame, and then for 15 seasons of a Hall of Fame career in the NFL.

The rest of us have just seen greatness.

These dozen men have felt it.

The rest of us, even most teammates and friends, have been forced to follow the wonders of Joe Montana from a distance.

These dozen men have been close enough to hear them. He has breathed down their shoulder pads. Screamed through their ear holes. Leaned exhaustedly on their hip pads. Dripped blood on their backs.

They have caught none of his touchdown passes. They have received none of his handoffs. They didn’t play starring roles in The Catch, or The Drive, or the many-sequeled Comeback Kid.

But before Joe Montana has started anything, it has started with them.

Brian Phillips. Joe Debranski. Mark Gorscak. Vince Klees. Steve Quehl. Dave Huffman. Fred Quillan. Randy Cross. Chuck Thomas. Walt Downing. Jesse Sapolu. Tim Grunhard.

Meet Joe’s centers.

TSN ARCHIVES: Joe Montana, the Best (April 24, 1995)

From the Monongahela (Pa) Wildcats to the Kansas City Chiefs, they have etched their names into the footnotes of football history simply by being the ones to give its greatest quarterback the ball.

Now that Montana’s career has ended, they have looked back to discover what they shared was far more than pigskin.

With Montana, they have laughed, celebrated, hurt, fought and experienced a relationship far deeper than the word “Hut.”

In celebration of Montana’s announced retirement this week, they agreed to share some of these tales.

After, of course, they were tracked down.

Discovery occurred in small towns and big cities from the Boston area to San Francisco. One former 49ers center was even found living 20 minutes from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. “Tell Joe I’m waiting for him,” former 49er Walt Downing says.

They are cement mixers and stockbrokers and TV analysts. In yet another tribute to the endurance of Montana, 38, only one of the dozen is still playing center and two are still playing football.

Besides all being literally touched by legend, they have another thing in common.

The Question

“Frankly, even now, everybody wants to know what it was like to have Joe Montana’s hands all over your butt,” former Notre Dame center Steve Quehl says.

Everybody? He paused. “Mostly the girls,” he says.

The career of Joe Montana, from a different perspective …

THE EARLY YEARS

Brian Phillips, 38, owner of Brian Phillips Cement Contracting, Monongahela, Pa.

I guess I was his first center, huh? Midget league and junior high. I can’t believe somebody remembered. I don’t even know if Joe remembers.

People in this town don’t think he remembers any of us. He never comes back and hasn’t really left anything behind. So he probably doesn’t remember me either.

That’s OK. I understand. I sure remember him.

I remember him for a Blue Chevy Caprice. That’s the car his dad drove us around in, about eight or nine of us kids. He drove us all over the Pittsburgh area to play basketball.

St. Anthony’s. The Armory. The Mounds.

TSN ARCHIVES: Jerry Rice was some catch (By Ann Killion, Feb. 11, 1991)

Back then, it was obvious his dad was a big reason for Joe’s success. His dad would get involved in everything Joe did, go to the practices, the games, all that stuff. His dad sometimes acted like everybody’s dad.

Another reason for Joe’s success was those drives in that Caprice. Because we would go into other neighborhoods, some times tough, inner-city neighborhoods and play kids in basketball.

And we would win. Just storm them. That made us tough.

Gosh, Joe was a great basketball player. Better than football, if you ask me.

I’ve seen him play one-on-one, spot some guy eight points, and beat him, 10-8. Beat him with his left hand.

Unbelievable leaping ability. I’m serious. He could fly. He was also a heck of a punter. Just a great athlete.

And a good wide receiver. Once in high school, Ringgold (of Monongahela) played Brownsville. I lined up in the slot. Joe handed the ball to Fidget Corbett, who handed the ball to me.

By that time, Joe was running down the left sideline. I threw him a pass. He caught it. Touchdown. Believe it or not.

Has he ever caught a touchdown pass since? I don’t think so. I guess maybe that puts us in history together.

Also, maybe I’m the only center who leaned over a ball one time and noticed that he was not behind me like he was supposed to be. He had lined up over guard.

“Hey, Joe,” I yelled. “Wrong ass.”

You didn’t want to mess too badly with Joe, though. He may be a great practical joker these days, but I was there when it started.

We’re lying on mats in a school hallway outside the high school cafeteria, resting during three-a-day practices one summer. All of us are eating fruit. You know. Dates, apples, pears.

Well, our big tackle, Tank Tabarella, threw an apple core at Joe. He played dead for a second, then rose up and fired an apple core back at Tank.

Well Tank ducked and the core flew into the cafeteria and hit one of the workers. Hit her good. Gave her a hurting.

But Joe fell back down so fast, she never knew where it came from.

People talk about that bullet he threw to Dwight Clark in that championship game as being his best pass ever.

I know better.

Joe Debranski, 39, track department foreman, Contail, Pittsburgh

When I think about Joe, I think about his hands.

It was only at Ringgold High, but they were the softest, smoothest hand of any quarterback who had ever lined up underneath me.

This was also a problem. Because I could never tell when Joe didn’t have his hands there.

There was nothing to stop him from playing a practical joke by pulling his hands out at the last minute and watching me snap the ball into my crotch.

He thought that was funny. Ha-ha

All of us forgave Joe for his stunts, though, because he was even smoother on the field.

I was there on that Friday against Monessen. The game that made Joe Montana.

TSN ARCHIVES: Barry Bonds and 755 (By Ken Rosenthal, Oct. 8, 2001)

Big rivalry between a couple of steel towns. They were a powerhouse. Supposed to whip us. Nice time for Joe’s first game as a starter.

We walked on to the field before the game and I couldn’t believe it. Our team was in total silence.

Nobody said a word. It was so quiet, nobody even said, “Don’t say anything.”

We thought, “So this is how Montana leads his team before a game.” The intensity was incredible

And what happens? What do you think? Joe throws three touchdown passes, takes us to a 21-7 lead at the end of the first half, and we hang on for a 34-all tie

That game was so good. I wish I could get the film and send it to you. Apparently the coach sent it to Notre Dame, because some say that the Monessen game is what convinced Notre Dame to take Montana.

Guys around town still talk about that game. The guys at work, they are always hassling me, saying, “Hey man, you played with Montana, you and Joe are tight.”

I say, “Right, man, he is sending me some tickets for this weekend’s games, I should get them in the mail tomorrow.”

But they know, and I know, that I am joking, because I have only seen Montana in person once since high school. He was back in town for some ceremony that honored him. I wanted to talk to him, kick around old times, did I ever.

But you know, it was tough even getting close to him. Best I could do was, I got his attention and he nodded at me. That was it.

But, hey, that was enough. He knew who I was. That nod was for me.

Mark Gorscak, 38, football administration coordinator, Weber State, Ogden, Utah

I was at a banquet once in this area where the speaker, being from Utah, introduced Steve Young as the greatest quarterback ever.

I told everybody at my table, “I can dispute that.”

I only regularly centered for Joe during his senior year at Ringgold High, but even then, I could tell how cool he was.

It was his hands. He would always slide them underneath me late. Like, right before the snap.

Never worried that he might miss the ball. Just went up there and grabbed it and that was it.

TSN ARCHIVES: Steph Curry, ‘there’s never been anyone like him (Oct. 22, 2021)

Another thing I remember about Joe was his eyes. When he wanted to get something done, he would give us this look in the huddle. We just knew he was going to do it.

I went to the Ringgold campus in Donora while Joe went to the campus in Monongahela, so I never really saw him off the field except during summer workouts.

And during that time, I probably saw him more on the basketball court. Did anybody tell you that Joe was a great basketball player? That he could have gone to college and played just that?

In my office here in Utah, I have an autographed picture of Joe. It kind of stands out here in Steve Young country. I tell people, “I was the man who made Joe famous.”

But I’m just joking. I tried to go see Joe during a preseason scrimmage a couple of years ago and couldn’t even get near him because of security.

But who knows? He may not remember me. He may not remember any of his centers.

THE BLUE AND GOLDEN YEARS

Vince Klees, 39, Stockbroker, A.G. Edwards and Sons Inc., Hanover Park, Ill.

Everybody talks so much about Joe Montana being a small-town boy, it has almost become cliche.

But I remember when it was true.

He came to Notre Dame as a freshman from Monongahela with good looks, an All-American smile and a ton of ability. He could have dated any woman on campus.

But you know what? All he talked about was wanting to get married. Back home. To his high school sweetheart.

Joe and I mostly stood on the sideline together those early Notre Dame years.

So we spent a lot of time talking to each other.

And sure enough, he was just a sweet small-town kid who couldn’t stop talking about his wedding.

Which we couldn’t believe.

We would gather around him at night and tell him, “C’mon, man, you’re Joe Montana, you look good, you can have anything you want here, forget about marriage!”

But he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. By the next year, he was married.

My future wife was friends with his first wife, and a couple of times, my wife would babysit for their dog. I forget what kind of dog it was, but I do remember its name.

Pupper. I remember thinking, what a ridiculous name for a dog. It was so corny. So small-town. But it was perfect.

The only thing that wasn’t quaint about Joe was his ability. It was huge. He was destined for greatness. We could see it every day.

Not on the practice field, because Dan Devine (who coached Montana after his freshman season) wouldn’t let him show much. I’m talking about the basketball court.

I’ll never forget playing intramurals once and looking up and seeing a kid hanging above the rim, waiting for the ball like Michael Jordan or something. Believe it or not, that was Joe.

You’ll have to ask Devine how much he wasn’t allowed to show that ability until nearly his senior year.

You’ll have to ask Devine why the man who became one of the greatest quarterbacks ever sat on the bench.

To this day, some of us are still wondering.

Steve Quehl, 42, senior vice president of Software Division, Wang Laboratories, Lowell, Mass.

A little story about Joe and a costume party.

It was held at Ara Parseghian’s house because it involved Ara’s daughter. A nice place. An upperclassmen. A big deal.

And here comes Joe, just a sophomore, and guess how he’s dressed?

Like a bunny rabbit. Seriously. A bunny.

We looked at him and thought, “That fits this guy exactly.” All innocent. All small-town.

We learned later that year, in games against North Carolina and Air Force, that looks were deceiving.

In my opinion, it was in those two games in 1975 that the Montana legacy started.

Joe didn’t play as a freshman (freshmen were ineligible then) and was buried on the bench as a sophomore. But we got ourselves in trouble in Chapel Hill against North Carolina that year (down 14-6 with 6:04 to play), and Joe was brought in.

We looked at each other like, “What do we have to lose?”

We didn’t know anything about this guy. Well, we found out.

In those final minutes he literally won the game with his arm (Montana threw two touchdown passes, including an 80-yard game winner to Ted Burgmeier to lead Notre Dame to a 21-14 victory).

I mean, the guy did it all. And in such heat. I’m suffering heat prostration, stripping down between series to take ice baths on the side line, and Joe is unbelievably cool. Later that year, we are playing at Air Force, in a game we always win, but we aren’t winning. They get ahead and stay ahead. Nothing we could do.

And then Joe came in.

He wasn’t a great practice player, maybe that’s why he didn’t play more early in his career. But by then, we knew what he could do under pressure.

He could step up, read a defense and put the ball where it needs to be. Man, you can’t practice that.

So he walked into that huddle in Colorado Springs (Notre Dame trailing, 30-10, with 13 minutes remaining). We looked around at each other and said, “Hey, here’s our shot.” By then, he was instant credibility.

Sure enough, he pulled it out for us (Montana led Notre Dame on three touchdown drives for a 31-30 victory).

It was incredible. He was passing, running … and finally earned everybody a game ball.

To this day, that is one of only two game balls that I own.

The other one is from the infamous Rudy game against Georgia Tech at the end of Joe’s sophomore season. That was the game they immortalized in the movie, where (walk-on) Rudy (Ruettiger) got to play and was carried off the field by a couple of guys and all that.

Yeah, I have the ball from that game. The only ball. I don’t think Rudy knows it. And I don’t think I want him to know it.

Dave Huliman, 38, manager of Lifetouch Photography, Minneapolis

What are you talking to me for? I centered for Joe for three years at Notre Dame but never saw one thing he did.

I was pointed in the other direction, remember?

I can tell you this. In three years, we did not have one fumbled snap. That is not by accident.

Joe and I stayed out late every day after practice during our sophomore year and practiced that snap. That’s how intense he was.

After a while, he was like, “Give it to me and get out of the way.” And so I did.

Ah, some of the things I saw …

Everybody has their own favorite Montana game. Mine was against Purdue in Joe’s junior year. The last game he didn’t start. If you ask me, that is when the real Montana legacy started.

Our other quarterbacks blew up in one game, and suddenly we needed Montana (Notre Dame trailed, 21-14, with 11 minutes to go ). And there he was.

Came in and took us down the field and saved us … again (Montana threw two touchdown passes in a 31-24 victory).

What he would do was kneel down in the middle of the huddle, lick his fingers and say, “OK, let’s win this game.” And that’s what would happen.

Sometimes he would look at linemen and say, “You’ve got to block that guy.” He was so intense, you would look back and say, “OK, OK, OK.”

Not that he was always that intense. I’m sure you’ve heard the stories. He was always stealing somebody’s jockstrap, stuff like that.

Once he even walked up to the line and stuck his hands under Teddy Horansky, one of our guards. As a joke, Teddy jumped about five feet.

One time I got Joe back, or so I thought. I cut out a hole in my football pants so that when he stepped up behind me and put his hands up there, all he felt was skin. He went, “Whoooa.”

Next thing I know, he drops back to pass and drills me in the back of the head.

The good thing about Joe is, he never forgets you.

When he was being courted by the Vikings a couple of years ago, back when I was still their center, I remember him telling the press, “I really know just three things about Minnesota. It’s cold, you play in a dome and one of your players is my idiot friend.”

Touching, huh?

Oh, and about his last Notre Dame game. You know, the famous Cotton Bowl (after the 1978 season, when Montana led Notre Dame to 35-34 victory over Houston after trailing, 34-12).

I know everybody talks about Joe drinking chicken soup in the locker room at halftime because he was so cold and sick. Well, it wasn’t soup.

It was some cheap broth. Some instant stuff you mix in a cup.

I don’t know how Joe came out in the second half and did what he did. But I know that by then, we weren’t surprised.

THE GLORY YEARS

Fred Quillan, 39, offensive line coach for Scotland in the World League

I centered for Joe from his rookie season with the 49ers in 1979 until I retired after the 1987 season.

We won two Super Bowls during that time. Collected all sorts of great memories.

But let me tell you about the gas.

Joe was always playing tricks on me. Filling up envelopes with shaving cream and sticking them halfway under the door, then stepping on them. Stuff like that.

If he really got me mad, I would make sure I would eat tacos or burritos before practice. That way, by the time practice started, I would be, uh, gassy.

I’m not making this up.

So one time I was furious with him, and I ate all morning and early afternoon, and during practice it was really bad.

Joe would step underneath me to take the snap and I would, uh, well, you know …

I did it so much that day, got it smelling so bad, that Joe finally stepped away from me, stopped practice and shouted, “I cannot play with this guy! I will not take another snap.”

Bill Walsh was over there watching it and couldn’t believe it.

This was during that 1984 season, when we had one of the best teams ever, and practice has stopped because one of the guys was, uh, breaking wind?

Joe starts yelling. I yell back, and Bill just throws up his hands and walks away.

Actually, Joe was a center’s best friend.

If there was ever a bad snap, Joe took the fall. Every time.

One time in practice, we messed up a snap. Walsh was irate, and Joe immediately took the blame. But it was clearly my fault, so I told Walsh that.

Joe snapped back that it was his fault, and I yelled back that it was my fault, and here we were arguing again.

Walsh couldn’t figure it out, and threw up his hands again and walked away.

After practice, Joe comes up to me and says, “Fred, don’t you ever do that again. You keep your mouth shut and I take the blame. Always.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because, Fred, I’m a quarterback and you’re a center. You will always get yelled at more than me. If I take the blame, they won’t yell so much.”

Is that class or what?

I remember the worst call of my life was when I told a reporter that Steve DeBerg was better prepared to be our quarterback. Because Joe was so quiet, we just didn’t know about his leadership.

Midway through his second season, he proved it. He came into the huddle and it was like a different team. He inspired such respect in us and, more important, trust.

That’s why one of the low points of my career was missing my guy in New York during the ’86 playoffs and watching Jim Burt knock Joe out of the game. Joe stayed in New York with a concussion that night, while I went crazy on the airplane home.

I wanted to jump off the plane. I wanted to get home and jump off a bridge. It wasn’t all my fault because a lot of things happened on that play, but I felt really bad.

The next year, Joe never said a word to me about it. It was like he would never stop taking up for his linemen, no matter what.

Some people say he is just a great quarterback. I know him as much more.

Chuck Thomas, 34, promotions and marketing. Rebound Sports, Inc. youth camps, Houston

I guess I’m the answer to a trivia question.

Who was Joe Montana’s center in the two games after Montana crossed the union picket line.

Joe’s replacement center. That was me. In 1987. The final two replacement games.

Most people forget that Joe crossed the line. Although maybe some union people remember.

Anyway, I don’t think Joe was thumbing his nose at anybody, I think he just anticipated the end of the strike and came on in with a bunch of other guys.

Am I glad he did.

At the time, I had been with the 49ers in training camp, hurt my hamstring, then came back when the strike hit. After the strike, I would be mostly a backup until I left the team after the 1992 season.

But for three games, I was the starter, and Joe was my quarterback in two of them.

I’ll never forget it. In fact, I’m looking at a game ball from the last game right now. It was against St. Louis. And the Cardinals were going hard after Joe.

They had a heck of a blitz package coming in, throwing everything at him but the kitchen sink. But we hung in there. We protected him. The jewel wasn’t damaged. We won. It was great.

He didn’t say much after that game. But a couple of years later, while I was still on the team as a backup, there was something he did I will never forget.

In the playoffs after the 1989 season, (tackle) Bubba Paris had an agreement with Joe. If our line kept him from getting sacked in the postseason, he would buy us a gift. They shook on it.

Well, except for once when he ran out of bounds — which doesn’t really count — he was never sacked during the postseason. The capper was, our year ended with our Super Bow victory over the Broncos.

I didn’t think anything of their agreement until I came to minicamp in 1990.

There, sitting in my locker was a Rolex watch. On the back were these words. “To Chuck With Much Appreciation. Super Bowl XXIV Joe Montana”.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was a backup. I had been a replacement player. I had worked hard and contributed a lot but still … you can imagine how I felt. I walked over to him and said, “Joe, I really, really appreciate this.” He looked at me all embarrassed.

I guess for him, I overreacted. He just said, “Good work.” And that was it.

I have two Super Bowl rings. I have that painted game ball from St Louis.

But this Rolex watch, that is my prize possession.

Walt Downing, 38, vice president of Green Lines Transportation, Inc., trucking company. Malvern, Ohio

I was a center with the 49ers from 1978 to 1983. Backed up a lot of offensive linemen. Started a few games for Fred Quillan.

But Joe and I were close for a number of reasons.

Like our birthdays were the same date. Not just day, but date. Both of us were born on June 11, 1956.

Both born in Pennsylvania, me outside Philadelphia and Joe, of course, outside Pittsburgh.

By sharing a birthday with Joe, I used to have fun at a lot of parties. I remember once we were doing a celebrity thing down in Santa Cruz, they gave us this cake when they found out it was both of our birthdays.

So we decided to try to hit each other in the face with this cake.

I don’t remember the exact results of the fight, but I remember that I at least got a little spot of cream on him. I’m sure I hit his nose. It’s so big, it’s hard to miss.

Those were the days. Teams were like family back then.

We’d all go have dinner after the game, just sit around afterward and talk, that’s what Joe loved to do. He was really shy at first. He could have done a ton more commercials back then, but that’s not want he wanted.

Sometimes when we were going out, Joe didn’t even want to drive his Ferrari. So I drove it for him.

Now I’m 6-foot-4, about 275 pounds, so you can imagine how I looked. Ever seen somebody big trying to drive those Malibu Fun Center race cars? That was me.

But Joe was comfortable. He was happy. He really felt good around his offensive linemen.

I remember once when Ed (Too Tall) Jones of Dallas was just about ready to hammer him, Joe stepped around him and threw about a 45-yard bullet to Dwight Clark.

Joe jumped up and said something to Too Tall.

Then Joe turned the other way and looked for one of us to hide behind.

That’s the way he was. But that was just fine with us. He took such good care of us, it was the least we could do for him.

Randy Cross, 40, NFL aralyst, NBC Sports

I know you’ve probably heard this story a lot, but I want to let you know that it is the absolute, Gospel truth.

The John Candy story.

I know it happened because I was there and heard every word of it.

It was in the Super Bowl after the 1988 season, against the Bengals. We’re deep in our territory late in the game. We’re trailing. We need a big drive for the win.

Joe steps into the huddle, stops, looks over on the sideline and says, “Hey, isn’t that John Candy over there?”

Gospel truth. He was doing that sort of thing all the time.

And a lot of it was absolutely intentional. He was just trying to make us as relaxed as he was.

Of course, everybody knows how be followed up that John Candy line with one of the greatest drives ever to give us the win.

And he really was relaxed. That was real.

The one thing that set him apart from many other quarterbacks, and this is something that only a center would know, was the feel of his hands.

They were never nervous. They were never rushed. It’s hard to explain, but as a center, it’s something you feel. And I felt it.

The story of his coolness was not in his face, but his hands.

Underneath all that, though, there was an unbelievable competitiveness. You could tell, because it was also visible off the field. Especially off the field.

I’m beating him in golf, and all of a sudden he gets real quiet. A lot of great athletes meditate, but not many people go into a trance. Joe, he would go into a trance.

Another example of his competitiveness was in New Orleans in 1980. We stayed at some sleazy hotel. It had a big room near the lobby with all of these electronic games.

One of those games was that old electric football game where you move your men by rolling a big ball that sticks out at either end of the field. You remember those games.

Anyway, Joe and Steve DeBerg (the 49ers’ starter at the time) start playing that game. And they keep playing. And playing. For at least a couple of hours, they played that game.

By the end of the day, I looked down at their hands and noticed that they were blue.

They had spent the day saying, “You quit … No, you quit … No, you quit.”

And we were playing a game the next day. I’m actually surprised that Joe is retiring.

I thought as soon as all that stuff came out last year about him quitting … well, he is the kind of person to pooh-pooh everything and keep playing just to prove everybody wrong.

Jesse Sapolu, 34, guard, San Francisco 49ers

With Joe leaving, football becomes a different deal.

I don’t know if there has ever been anybody where the final two minutes have been so automatic.

In 1988, we won a bunch of games in the last two minutes or so. It was like, 11. Did you know that? With him around, everybody knew that the 49ers were automatic at the end.

That’s not just the way it looked, that’s the way it felt.

It was the attitude we had in the huddle. Whether in the Super Bowl or the preseason.

With Joe it was like we were just 11 kids from some park, trying to beat some other park in a game. That’s all it was.

I really appreciated Joe when I had to center for someone else. Like Steve Bono.

Any mistakes made between the center and the quarterback, Joe would always shout, “My fault, my fault.”

The minute something went wrong with Steve Bono, though, he would look at me and say, “What happened?”

The game I remember most is not the great Super Bowl victories, but an early-season game in Philadelphia in 1989.

Our line made so many mistakes in that game that Joe was sacked or knocked down about six or seven times. I don’t know how he survived, but he did and was still able to throw five touchdown passes.

The next week, when we watched the film, (offensive line coach) Bobb McKittrick stood up and apologized to the whole team for the poor play of our line.

Later that day, I’m sitting in front of my locker, real upset, and Joe walks over. Taps me in the ribs.

“Shit happens,” he said.

To me, that’s the true Joe Montana, being able to forget about a bad play or bad day, moving on to the next play or next week, overcoming mistakes and being better for them.

To me, that’s a man.

THE FINAL YEARS

Tim Grunhard, 26, center, Kansas City Chiefs

The thing about Joe is that he never gets too high or too low. He’s always on an even keel. That’s what really helped him do so well in those close games.

He was always able to transcend the hype for a particular game or a particular play and just stay within himself. That’s something I’m going to try to learn from him.

The best example would probably be from the Denver game from Monday night last year. We had only 1:22 left. But Joe was always on the same keel, telling guys that we would get it done if we concentrate on doing our jobs.

A lot of people get nervous, like, “Oh, no, we’ve got to make it all up on this one play.” He’s never that way.

There was a game in San Diego his first year here. We’re trying to score a touchdown late in the game to win it.

He throws incomplete passes on the first three downs. Most quarterbacks I know would have said, “Geez, I’ve thrown three bad passes, maybe I’m off my game right now.”

Joe knew if he stayed level and did what he had to do, be would be successful. He completed the fourth-down pass, we got the first down, we scored a touchdown and we won the game.

He was probably the biggest prankster in the locker room. From putting shaving cream into the guys’ helmets to powdering their shoes, it was probably Joe who did it.

Everybody was a victim. Nobody was spared. He always found a way to keep that locker room loose. That’s the one thing that’s so important in this league, and he did it so well.

The one thing that surprised me is that I thought he would be more of a motivator than he really was. I always thought he was one of those guys who was whooping and hollering in the huddle. But he just went about his business.

In the two-minute offense, he would always be thinking two, three, four plays ahead, about what we would do if we got the first down on this play, or what we would do if the guy didn’t get out of bounds, or whatever.

He was always ahead of the game, and I think that’s what made him the best two-minute quarterback ever.

Facebook Comments Box