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You probably know that Joe Montana is in the conversation as the greatest quarterback of all-time because of his big-game performances. What you may not know is that he once quit at halftime of a Super Bowl.
Twenty five years ago, Montana’s NFL TV studio career lasted just nine regular-season games and the playoffs for NBC. On Jan., 28, 1996, the Cowboys and Steelers met in Super Bowl XXX. Diana Ross performed at halftime.
“At halftime, I called my wife from the phone,” Montana told The Post. “We all had phones next to us and said, ‘I quit. I’m out of here. I can’t do this.’ ”
Montana made $400,000 to jet across the country to New York for half the regular season. He enjoyed the camaraderie with Greg Gumbel, Mike Ditka, Joe Gibbs and Ahmad Rashad. He didn’t really like the on-air experience and, according to reports from back then, he wasn’t that well received anyway.
The last straw came when he made a point in the pre-halftime meeting on how to defend the Cowboys and was told it was no good. Then, they came on and another analyst — he didn’t say which one, but it wasn’t Ditka — made the same point and everyone loved it.
“I said, ‘OK, I had enough. I’m done,’ ” Montana recalled.
It was one-and-done for Montana, who was hesitant to criticize players.
“I hear guys say, ‘He did this and he did that,’ ” Montana said. “I say, ‘How do you know that he did [what] that offense does or what the defense does or whose mistake it is?’ Making that kind of judgment wasn’t fair to the players because I had it made on me so many times.”
On Sunday, Montana will be part of the Super Bowl when he is featured in Guinness’ greatest of all time ad. As for the answer to the question, Montana, who has four rings, didn’t definitively weigh in on who is the best of all-time, though, he said he would take either Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes with the game on the line.
Brady grew up idolizing Montana. Montana can see why Brady keeps playing at 43. Montana said there is nothing like the adrenaline of Sunday. When he retired from the Chiefs following the 1994 season, at age 38, he missed it.
“Once, I stepped away, I said, ‘Why did you do that? I wanted to kill myself,” Montana, now 64, said, using a figure of speech and not literally meaning it. “You had another year on that contract. I really started looking more about my health.”
Jim Nantz will call the game, then jet down to handle the trophy presentation. This setup of having one person do it all is unique to CBS. Fox has Joe Buck call the game and Terry Bradshaw do the trophy presentation. NBC had Al Michaels call the game, with Dan Patrick on the postgame podium for their past four Super Bowls. For the AFC Championship, it was Tracy Wolfson who handled the trophy presentation. Though Wolfson or “NFL Today” host James Brown could have been an option, it will, instead, be Nantz, front and center. …. CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus has a smart approach in terms of how much betting content a broadcast like the Super Bowl should contain. McManus has made the point that if someone has made a bet, then they are not looking on the screen to find out the lines, etc. We agree. On top of that, someone who doesn’t want a wager doesn’t need the screen all filled up with lines. Betting will become a big part of watching games, but TV executives will need to manage it all so it is not overblown when the action is going on.
Chris “Continent” Carlin is adding a national 5-9 p.m. show on ESPN Radio to go along with his weekday ESPN New York program. He also will sprinkle some more radio and TV play-by-play.
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