Joe Montana isn’t wary about being crowned the NFL’s “Greatest Ever,” and he recently added another dimension to the conversation.
in An interview with Men’s Health published Wednesday, distinguished Montana between “the greatest quarterback of all time” and “the best quarterback of all time”. You see, greatest means career accomplishments (Super Bowl rings, Pro Bowls, passing yards), while best is straight talent.
The former has been a lively debate for years, with Montana himself weighing in several times. However, in the latter, Montana chose a fun name: Miami Dolphins Hall of Famer Dan Marino.
Montana and Tom Brady, the past and current most popular answers to the “greatest” debate, may have more Super Bowl rings than Marino (in fact, a lot of players do), but Montana insisted that no one is as good as Marino simply at playing quarterback.
From Men’s Health:
“He had a quick release,” Montana says of Marino. “I had to get involved in a lot of things to get enough power on the ball.” “He had perfect torque in his upper body and strength to deliver the ball quickly and accurately.”
Marino played 17 NFL seasons, earned nine Pro Bowl nods, three first-team All-Pro selections and a 1984 MVP award, but no Super Bowl rings. He has played in only one Super Bowl in his career, losing Super Bowl XIX to Montana and the San Francisco 49ers in 1985.
Marino retired as the NFL’s all-time yardage leader with 61,361, however It now ranks 8th on the leaderboard. He’s the only person in the top 10 not to play a game after 2000, which isn’t easy considering how much the NFL has changed for quarterbacks in the past 20 years or so.
The league has made every effort to make their quarterbacks safer and more productive, and this is something Montana believes Marino would have benefited the most from had he played in the current version of the game:
Montana declared, “Put Marino in today’s game where he gets a free release… And his receivers, holy cow, weren’t so big. Now those guys are 6’4 and 6’5.” I think Marino is probably one of the most unsung heroes in the game. People don’t talk about him enough or realize the numbers he put out during the times he put them up.”
It’s hard to argue with Montana here; The NFL has changed a lot. Maybe the New England Patriots would have won more titles if they had named a young Dan Marino as their starter instead of Brady in 2001. Then again, it’s very easy to say things like that, with no chance of being proven wrong. We’ll never know if Marino would have won the ring in a different era, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate him.
As for the goat debate, Montana’s future appears to be changing a bit come the year. In 2021, when Brady won his seventh ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Montana said Brady was “absolutely” the greatest player in NFL history. He was a little less enthusiastic about 2022, Noting that it was difficult to compare eras He claims that Otto Graham won 11 pre-Super Bowl championships in 10 seasons with the Cleveland Browns (he was actually seven).
As for 2023, it was Montana or Men’s Health that made it seem like Montana now thinks he’s the GOAT again:
Before the University of Montana, Notre Dame, beat Navy on Aug. 26, he looked at the current landscape of quarterbacks in the NFL and decided that the player closest to replacing him as the GOAT was Patrick Mahomes “by far,” he says. It’s completely different than any other midfielder out there.”
Check back in 2024 to see the next episode of the never-ending debate.