Joe Montana


Joe Montana
1981
Joe Montana leads San Francisco 49ers to first of four Super Bowl Championships. The Era of Italian American Quarterback Dominance including Dan Marino.


Joe Montana is regarded as among the greatest quarterbacks in professional football history. Born to Joe Sr. and his mother Theresa in 1956 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania, he grew up in Monongahela, in western Pennsylvania, called the cradle of quarterbacks because it spawned so many famous athletes including Italian Americans Babe Parilli, Joe Montana, and Dan Marino, among others. An only child, and encouraged in athletics by his father, at the completion of high school Joe Montana, now 6" 2' and 195 pounds, excelled in baseball and football, and was named Parade's All American High School quarterback in 1974. He then went to Notre Dame University initially as a backup quarterback seeing little playing time until 1977 when he was brought in as the Notre Dame team was trailing Purdue University and quickly made his mark as a turn-around leader, transforming defeat into victory. The ability to wrest victory from seeming defeat would become his hallmark as he continued leading the team to victory after victory adding even more lore to Notre Dame's storied legacy. The San Francisco Forty-Niners who drafted him in 1979 brought him along carefully until 1981, his second season when he led his team to a 13 win 3 losses record and a victory in the Super Bowl. That winning season was repeated in 1984 as Montana led San Francisco to Super Bowl victory –this time against the Miami Dolphins and its talented quarterback Dan Marino. Altogether Montana guided the San Francisco team to four Super Bowl triumphs. Sidelined by injury in 1991 and 1992, Montana was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993 where he resumed his brilliant leadership steering that team to winning seasons for the next two years. In 1995, at age 38, Montana retired from active playing and not surprisingly was elected to the Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

Born to Veronica and Daniel Marino in 1961 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dan (Daniel Constantine) Marino was destined to carve out a career as quarterback who broke more professional records than anyone else in that position. As one of three children he was raised in a Pittsburgh working class neighborhood and attended Central Catholic High where he excelled both in baseball and football receiving Parade's All-American honors. He then became the star quarterback for the University of Pittsburgh where he earned All-American recognition, and led his team to three bowl games. Although Marino had a sub-par senior, year the Miami Dolphins drafted him in 1983 and he responded with a sensational season as he passed for 20 touchdowns and won the Rookie of the Year Award. So exceptional were his quarterbacking talents that in his second year as a professional he was the starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl. Before his career came to an end in 2000, Marino broke 24 National Football League records including more passing attempts, more pass completions, more touchdown passes (over 400), more total yardage (60,000) than any other player -the only goal that eluded him was to win a Super Bowl.

As Italian American quarterbacks Montana and Marino were not anomalies. When one considers the number of quarterbacks with Italian names that have excelled in football such as Daryl LaMonica, Babe Parilli, Vince Ferragamo, Dan Pastorini, Vince Testagrossa, Vinny Testaverde, Gino Torretta among others, perhaps it may not be overstatement to use "dominance" to describe their prowess at that position.

Dan Marino
Dan Marino



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