One of the most decorated American National Football League quarterbacks of modern football era; Joe Montana will be heading to Beijing to promote the NFL China’s University Flag Football. Joe led the San Francisco 49ers four Super Bowl wins in the 1980s. He is best known for orchestrating fourth quarter comebacks and earning the nickname, The Comeback Kid and Joe Cool. Joe was inducted to the Pro Hall of Fame in 2000.
The NFL legend will be available for a Q&A session at the Kerry Hotel on the evening of November 18. We sat down with him for a little Q&A about his pending visit, early childhood and family life.
Why are you coming to Beijing?
I’m coming to China as the special guest for the University Bowl, the championship tournament between the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou NFL China University Flag Football teams that is happening in Guangzhou on November 17. While I’m here, I will be visiting Beijing and Shanghai for a couple of and greets with the public.
What will you be interested in looking out for while in Beijing?
I’m not there very long but if I can squeeze in things, I’d love to do it I’m still doing research and looking up the places that I’d like to see but I’m interested in some of the older parts of China. Of course, there are places like the Great Wall, The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, which are popular in pictures.
What got you interested in sports?
Growing up in Western Pennsylvania there was a certain lifestyle with the coalmines and the steel mills. My parents could never afford to send me to college and they saw sports as a way out of the lifestyle of the area.
What occupations did you have as a child?
I played sports 365 days a years so that was kind of my job. As long as I kept up with my homework that was my job. Although I did caddie on occasion but that was just for a time. I spent more time playing cards behind the caddy shack than I did going out and carrying bags.
What were your favorite childhood books?
I liked books that were entertaining and still do to this day. Growing up, I liked books that were more fun than anything. So I looked for things that would make me laugh or smile. I still approach reading for fun today in the same way. I don’t want to read about somebody’s life story or bio for fun as much as I want to be entertained. So make it murder mystery, drama – still to this day just entertain me.
What was your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject was math. I don’t know why because it became one of the more difficult ones as you keep going through school but it was still my most favorite.
Do you think Math or other subjects in school translated on the field?
I think they both worked hand in hand because it took the same amount of discipline to be successful. People always ask I would ever get nervous and I would go, “yeah, everybody is nervous.” You’re nervous for a reason because you want to do well. Just like when you’re in school, the more you prepare yourself for a test, the better you will feel. You may be a little nervous going in but at least you know you’re prepared. If you hadn’t prepared for a test, you know that feeling in your stomach before is not good. It’s the same in sports. You have to prepare yourself everyday for practice just like you do everyday for class. Your test is every Saturday or Sunday depending on whether you’re in college or the NFL so you have to prepare yourself for that. It works hand in hand.
What do you miss most about playing competitive football?
I miss it all. I miss being on the field. I miss the locker room: the practical jokes; the camaraderie and the joy of winning. You hate losing but I’ll even take that if I can get back to playing again. It’s just one of the craziest, most fun games. I always say that I wish everyone could experience a Sunday afternoon on the field. If people did, they will know right away why guys try to play as long as we possibly can before we retire.
What are some of your parenting woes?
The hardest part is that always trying to find that line between friendship and teaching. Being tough and making the hard calls. My wife is much better than it that I am. That’s the hardest part because you always want to teach and show them the way but sometimes there are tough decisions where you have to say no and put your foot down. It’s difficult but you find in the end that they are thankful for the times when you do get a little bit strict on certain things like when they go out, what time they come home and those types of decisions.
Both your sons play football, what concerns did you have for them?
As a parent you always worry about injuries more than anything else. You try to get them to protect themselves. Last week, my son Nicholas missed the game. He didn’t play baseball growing up so I tell him that’s probably the problem because he can’t figure out how to slide. He tried taking on four guys so he separated his shoulder. Thankfully it’s a bye week for him and he’s recovering so hopefully he will be able to come back next week.
Photos courtesy of the Associated Press and The New York Times.