This is the first book by Keith Dunnavant that I have read and I certainly plan on reading his others. ‘Montana: The Biography of Football’s Joe Cool’ is a great read. Dunnavant guides the reader through the life of NFL Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana who many consider to be the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. He keeps the story moving and compelling without diving too much into the weeds and also gives a bit of history lesson along the way.
(Full disclosure, I am a born and raised San Francisco 49ers fan and a massive fan of Joe Montana. How this book came out in 2015 and I didn’t read it immediately is beyond me. )
Joe Montana isn’t the prototypical NFL quarterback. One who is six foot five, 225 pounds and can throw the ball over that mountain a la Uncle Rico. He’s too skinny and doesn’t have a great arm but he is a great athlete which is something that was new to me. I always presumed that Montana’s rival and eventual replacement Steve Young was the better athlete but Dunnavant makes otherwise. I mean shoot, Montana could dunk a basketball!
If you’re a fan of football, you know most of the great NFL Joe Montana moments. The Drive in Super Bowl XXIII and of course The Catch. While Dunnavant goes into those, he doesn’t dwell on them but rather builds to them. One of the pivotal moments as Dunnavant tells it is the comeback Montana made as the quarterback of Notre Dame in the 1979 Cotton Bowl or the ‘Chicken Soup’ game. ‘The Comeback Kid’ as Montana would be called, was close to having hypothermia due to a case of the flu and also because it was so cold (22 degrees due to an ice storm in Dallas). He lead Notre Dame to two touchdowns in the 4th quarter to defeat Houston 35–34.
What I really appreciated about this book is how Dunnavant gives context to the times in which Montana grew up and played. For example, he touches on how the steel country in which Montana grew up changed over time and how Montana’s time at Notre Dame overlapped with the infamous Rudy. What Dunnavant and others have done is point out how Montana and the rise of the 49ers and Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense changed how the game of football was played. No small feat to be sure.
Again, I am a huge fan of Joe Montana so this was an easy book for me to pick up and read. If you’re a football fan, this is a solid book to grab of if you want a bit of a history lesson then this one might fit the bill.