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The six-part Joe Montana: Cool Under Pressure, premiering on the streaming service Thursday, chronicles Montana’s career from high school to Notre Dame, where he won a national championship, to the NFL, where he won four Super Bowls with the 49ers. The series features interviews with celebrities, former teammates, coaches and mentees of Montana. Those involved include Tom Brady, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, George Seifert, Ed Debartolo, Peyton Manning, Magic Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. NFL Films is producing the series for Peacock.
Cool Under Pressure features many tales about the San Francisco 49ers (then Kansas City Chiefs) star quarterback that most people don’t know. The 65-year-old Pro Football Hall of Famer, who notes he could only watch the series a single time to give a final OK, told The Hollywood Reporter some viewers may even be “shocked” by what they will learn.
What do you hope fans will ultimately come away with from the Cool Under Pressure series?
I think the biggest thing about coming out of here is if you want something bad enough, you just never quit. If you want something bad enough, you can’t give up at it. You never stop believing in yourself and always be prepared. I learned the best preparation when I got to the 49ers with [late head coach] Bill Walsh.
And then you get to San Francisco — you’ve won four Super Bowls, two in a row and about to be a third in a row — I got injured and then the next thing you know, I won’t get a chance to play [there] again, and I get traded to Kansas City. And what I went through — I think people will be shocked by some of the things that happened.
Sounds like it was pretty tough revisiting that time, those legendary glory days.
It was hard. This is probably the toughest thing because I don’t live in my past. So going back and looking at this was hard. I didn’t watch the episodes over and over. I had to watch them once to say, “Yes, they look great,” and move forward. Otherwise, it was tough watching, going through it again and living it again puts the same temperament in your mind.
What was it like being among the first NFL stars who transcended the game? More than just trading cards and magazine covers, your face was on Starting Lineup action figures, video games, tackling dummies pillows, and then you even did SNL.
It was fun to a certain degree. (Laughs.) But then I got the ole ruler smacked on my hands occasionally by Bill Walsh, reminding me that if you want to keep doing those things, you better be ready for the season. Every now and then he would pull me in, give me a shake and kick me back out the door. It was sometimes a distraction, but some of it was a lot of fun; pretending like I sang on a Huey Lewis [and the News] album, doing Saturday Night Live with Walter Payton, meeting my wife through a commercial. You can’t get any better than that.
Los Angeles Rams star wide receiver Cooper Kupp said the other day, essentially, records broken with the newly expanded season should have an asterisk. Thoughts?
Not really because I think, if you look back before I got into the NFL, I think they played fewer games, 14 or 12, maybe. It is what it is these days. Everyone is throwing for more yards because they’re protecting the quarterback [better]. The game is different and it has always evolved. I always go back to Otto Graham. He won 10 or 11 championships before the Super Bowls came around. So it will always be different. I understand what [Kupp] is saying, but it is still a record. It doesn’t matter.
And finally, since this is THR, I have to ask a movie question I’ve always wondered: Are you aware Al Pacino’s iconic Scarface character is named after you, screenwriter Oliver Stone being a massive fan?
I had heard of it some time ago. It is an honor to have somebody think that much of you that they name a character after you — even though he was kind of crazy. (Laughs.) He was still the star of it. So, I appreciate it.
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