A Big Move This NFL Offseason Has Some In Kansas City Remembering When Future Hall Of Famer Joe Montana Came To Town
Like Tom Brady, who left New England for Tampa Bay this year, Joe Montana moved from San Francisco to Kansas City in 1993, still with something to prove.
NFL fans hoping the coroanvirus doesn't cancel next season are already anticipating a big matchup involving the Kansas City Chiefs that many think could be a Super Bowl LV preview.
Team schedules were unveiled Thursday and a game slated for November 29 will pit Kansas City's young star quarterback and reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes against Tom Brady, in Tampa Bay.
Yes, that Tom Brady, who spent the last two decades in New England before making a move from the Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason.
Brady's league-shaking switch is on par with another quarterback's late-career move 27 years ago. In 1993, the Chiefs rocked the NFL when they traded for Joe Montana, who had won four Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers but was on the down slope of his career.
The future Hall of Famer came to Kansas City trying to prove he could still play at a high level.
'The guy's name is Joe'
Lynn Stiles, retired and now living in Leawood, Kansas, started the ball rolling on the 1993 deal that brought Montana to Kansas City. Stiles himself had joined the Chiefs front office a year before as a consultant.
A few months after coming to Kansas City, Stiles was promoted to vice president of player personnel and closely advised Chiefs then-president and general manager Carl Peterson. Previously, Stiles had worked for the 49ers.
He recalls being the first to tell Peterson about a quarterback who might possibly be on the market.
“I said, ‘Hey, I might have a line on a quarterback that might be available.’ He says, ‘Who’s that?’” Stiles recalled, 27 years later. “I said, ‘The guy’s name is Joe.’ He looked at me, ‘Joe. Joe Montana?’ And I said, ‘Joe Montana.’”
Montana, a three-time Super Bowl MVP and, even then, recognized as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, had missed nearly all of the previous two seasons with an elbow injury. The Chiefs wanted to make sure he had fully recovered. After a workout in Kansas City, Stiles says the Chiefs came away satisfied.
Next up, Peterson had to work out a trade with the 49ers.
“I knew it was going to happen,” Stiles says. “It was just a matter of how they were going to to go about it.”
The Chiefs gave up a first-round draft choice that year for Montana and didn’t have a pick until the third round when they ended up taking another future Pro Football Hall of Famer, offensive guard Will Shields from Nebraska.
But the hysteria over Montana had begun in what was then quarterback-starved Kansas City.
A warm welcome and a playoff run
The 37-year old veteran received a rousing welcome before 73,550 fans at Arrowhead Stadium in the Chiefs first preseason game against Buffalo that summer. After that game, Montana told TNT Sports that he liked the way he and the team were shaping up.
“I’m working with the guys out there in a game situation and that’s what we need. The more I can get into that, the better off we’ll all be,” he said.
But Montana continued to fight against the injury bug that plagued him late in his career with the 49ers. The running joke that year in Kansas City: What’s the difference between a dollar bill and Joe Montana? A dollar gives you four quarters.
Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer became accustomed to constantly answering reporters’ questions about Montana’s playing status.
But when he was available, Montana showed signs of the magic from his glory days with the 49ers, including a stunning road victory, 28-20, against the highly vaunted Houston Oilers in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
That win put the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game at Buffalo, but Montana got hurt in that game, too. He left early in the third quarter with a concussion after being sacked by three Bills defensive players and hitting his head on the artificial turf.
Montana was out for the rest of the game and the Chiefs lost, 30-13.
An Arrowhead memory
Before the 1994 season, which would be his last, Montana talked about the motivating factor at that stage of his career.
“One day it’s going to be over and I’m sure I’ll be missing it from what everybody says,” he said. “You have to cherish every minute that you can.”
The ‘94 home opener against the 49ers was the matchup everyone had been waiting for: Joe Montana vs. Steve Young, the quarterback who replaced Montana in San Francisco. The Chiefs won, 24-17. Afterward, Young applauded Montana in defeat.
“In a lot of ways, the master had some more to teach the student,” said Young. “He did a great job.”
But Montana’s magic only went so far in Kansas City. The Chiefs exited from the playoffs again that year short of the Super Bowl, and Montana retired.
It wouldn’t be until a guy named Patrick Mahomes came along that the Chiefs would get back to the heights Montana took them. But where Montana fell short in his two years with the Chiefs, Mahomes has taken Kansas City all the way, winning Super Bowl LIV in February.
After the game November 29 versus Brady's Buccaneers, the Chiefs hope to book a return trip for Super Bowl LV.
The game will be played in Tampa.