Joe Montana is a retired Italian American professional football player. He was a quarterback in the National Football League for 16 seasons. Montana is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to have ever played the game. He is admired by many NFL football fans, particularly fans of the San Francisco 49ers, where he spent the first 14 seasons of his professional career.
His parents were Joseph Clifford and Theresa Marie Montana. Joe's paternal grandfather, Giuseppe Montani, was born in the Sicilian city of Messina and immigrated to the U.S. as a boy with his parents. As a young man, Giuseppe changed his name to Joseph Montana to make it sound more American. Joe's paternal grandmother was Margaret Frances Noce. She was born in Ohio to northern Italian parents from Verbania, in the region of Piemonte. His maternal grandfather, Vincenzo James Bavuso, was born in the small Sicilian town of Cianciana, located in the province of Agrigento. Joe’s maternal grandmother was Josephine Savarino. Josephine was born in Alessandria della Rocca, which is also in the province of Agrigento.
On June 11, 1956, Theresa Marie Montana gave birth to Joseph Clifford Montana, Jr. in New Eagle, PA. Joe played basketball and football in high school and was even offered a basketball scholarship to North Carolina State University. Joe turned down the offer and enrolled at the University of Notre Dame to play football for the Fighting Irish. As their quarterback, Notre Dame took home national championships in 1977 and 1979. Montana was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1979.
On January 10, 1982, San Francisco faced the Dallas Cowboys in the National Football Conference Championship at Candlestick Park. In a fantastic play in the final quarter, Montana took the snap and ran to his right. He threw the football near San Francisco wide receiver Dwight Clark, who made a leaping catch for the game-tying touchdown. “The Catch” is widely regarded as one of the most memorable plays in NFL history. With just 51 seconds left on the game clock, Ray Wersching kicked the extra point and the 49ers won the game. The famous reception by Clark put San Francisco into Super Bowl XVI where the 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Because of his performance, Montana won the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award. The win also made Montana one of only two quarterbacks to win a college national championship and a Super Bowl. Joe Namath was the other.
The 49ers faced the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX. Dan Marino, another Italian American football star, was the quarterback for the Dolphins. The 49ers defeated the Dolphins 38-16. Montana earned his second Super Bowl MVP Award.
The 49ers earned a trip to Super Bowl XXIII to face the Bengals when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears in the playoffs. Despite Montana's great skills, the 49ers were losing. With only 3:20 left in the game, Montana proved just how great of a quarterback he was by throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to John Taylor. Montana also earned the NFL Most Valuable Player Award.
In 1990, the 49ers defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV, winning their second consecutive Super Bowl and tying the Pittsburgh Steelers with four Super Bowl victories. Montana also secured his third Super Bowl MVP Award and was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated.
During the NFC Championship Game between the 49ers and the New York Giants in January 1991, Leonard Marshall sacked Joe Montana, badly injuring him. By the time that he recovered, the 49ers already had quarterback Steve Young and were ready to ditch Montana, who had carried the team to its greatest heights. In April 1993, they traded Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The legendary quarterback showed everyone that he still had the golden touch by leading the Chiefs to their first division title in 22 years and the 1993 AFC Championship Game. After one more season, which ended with a loss to the Miami Dolphins in 1994, Montana announced his retirement. Montana was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He is an Italian American legend and an American sports hero.