Arguably the greatest quarterback of them all helped kickoff the 2014 season in Canada.
Joe Montana was in Toronto September 4 and Vancouver September 5, working with the NFL to help celebrate the start of the season and raise money for the Special Olympics.
Montana, the former San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs legend (and the only man to win three Super Bowl MVPs in four appearances), helped conduct special fantasy drafts for fans in both cities.
He followed in the footsteps of Jerry Rice, Joe Theismann, Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett, and Jerome Bettis as special guests at the season-opening Canadian fundraisers.
NFL Fantasy Football Charity Dinners and Drafts are designed to engage NFL fans for a season-long initiative, raise money for Special Olympics, and have fun celebrating the start of another NFL season. The draft is limited to 32 ‘teams’ (tables of 4) who purchase the right to participate.
All proceeds from the event, which also include appearances by NFL cheerleaders, go to support Special Olympics Canada, in partnership with the Wizard Foundation. The 2014 Toronto and Vancouver events raised more than $100,000 for the charity. Over the past eleven years the National Football League has used the events to contribute a total of $785,000 to Special Olympics Canada.
Prior to the draft in Toronto Montana sat down with the Sun to answer a few questions http://www.torontosun.com/2014/09/04/qa-with-san-francisco-49ers-legend-joe-montana :
What brings you to town?
I’ve been doing some work for the NFL. Travelling outside the U.S., last year I was in London and China, this year I’m in Toronto and then Vancouver (on Friday) and then Mexico City later on. I think the NFL realizes that there are a lot of great fans in this country and just want to make sure they are reaching out to them and doing different things. At the same time, they also are trying to do something for the community, and they are a big supporter of the Canadian Special Olympics.
That’s kind of what we’re doing tonight with the dinner, raising some money. Just having a little bit of fun along the way and getting ready for the start of the season tonight.
Do you play fantasy football?
No, it’s too hard to keep up with them week after week. To do it right, you have to be able to know all the young guys coming in and watch pre-season and try to figure out who might be a sleeper that you can pick. I just don’t have that kind of time right now. If I did it, I’d just be doing one of the weekly games or something. I’m actually developing an app myself. We’re looking at launching Tuesday or Wednesday next week and we should have the final approvals from the Apple Store. (The app, called iMFL, combines fantasy football with the ability to make bets with friends as NFL games are taking place in real time).
Do you get to Toronto often?
No, I was coming for a while, I was with Chip Ganassi and his IndyCar team (Chip Ganassi Racing). They came here and I visited a couple of the races here, but not very often.
I actually spent a lot of time in the middle section of Canada growing up because my dad loved to fish and we’d go into Sault St. Marie and those areas.
Who do you like this season?
The nice thing is it is always such a toss-up. You never know. Some of the teams that are always on top will probably still remain there and it will be a battle of those guys. For me, you’re looking at Seattle, San Francisco, you can put Green Bay and I think the Saints kind of on the next little tier below them. The AFC is going to go through Denver or New England, but a sleeper team that had a great pre-season, from what I saw, was San Diego. So that will be interesting to see how they do in the regular season.
Can you identify with Peyton Manning, having made it all the way back from injury yourself?
Well, yeah, I know what it’s like, I’ve been there. But I think, when you look at it, a lot of players have gone through the same thing. Unfortunately for him and for me, the quarterback position gets a lot more attention. I’m sure there are a lot of guys who went through a lot of stuff that was just as bad as what we did, but they just don’t get the pub.
Any of today’s QBs remind you of yourself?
No, I never try to compare people to other people, just like when I was growing up I never tried to emulate somebody’s style. I loved watching the game and certain guys, but I always tell people you have to be yourself. You try to be somebody else, that’s not you, you can’t be like that. I never looked at it that way.
Ever think about what it would be like to play today?
It would be fun. It would be fun just playing, period — whether it’s today or back then. I don’t care. It’s just so crazy fun that you just wish you could be back in it. We all think we could get back in it, but then you try to run from here to the door and you’re out of breath.
MONTANA BY THE NUMBERS
4: Super Bowl wins
3: Super Bowl MVPs
11: touchdowns at the Super Bowl
0: Interceptions at the Super Bowl
16-7: Playoff record
5: Playoff game-winning drives
1: NCAA title
8: Pro Bowl selections
5: Years Montana had the NFC’s highest passer rating
92: The yards Montana marched the Niners with 36 seconds left in Super Bowl XXIII
55: Touchdown completions to Jerry Rice
41: Touchdown completions to Dwight Clark
2000: Year he went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
25th: Rank among the greatest athletes of the 20th Century, according to ESPN
No. 1: All-time clutch quarterback, according to Sports Illustrated