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Interview: NFL's Joe Montana

The NFL legend makes his first trip to China this month

For most Americans, Joe Montana is a man that needs no introduction. Many people living in other parts of the world however, may not be as familiar with the NFL legend. Considered by many to be the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, Joe Montana played 16 seasons in the NFL from 1979 to 1994, during which he racked up eight Pro Bowl selections, two regular season MVPs, four Super Bowl rings, and three Super Bowl MVP awards. Now Montana is coming to Beijing to help promote the NFL in China and talked to Time Out Beijing ahead of his visit.

What do you think the key is to growing a uniquely American sport, like football, in China?
Education and access to games. Most people don’t understand the starts and stops of the games. Once there’s an education about football on all levels then you will see little programs develop. It’s similar to what has happened in the United States with soccer. Years ago, you would never see soccer games but now driving on a weekend morning, there are more soccer games for kids than football games. Being able to watch NFL games and some of the bigger games in college would also help.

What was the most difficult moment or obstacle in your career?
The most difficult time was my first serious injury, which was my back surgery. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to, or should, come back but my wife knew better. She knew it wasn’t time for me to give up and basically embarrassed me into getting started on my rehab. Getting remotivated after that kind of injury was probably the most difficult part.

Is there one specific moment/ title in your career that you are most proud of (other than 'The Catch')?

That first Super Bowl started those highlights. There’s nothing more memorable than the first time you walk onto a Super Bowl field. The boos and yays kind of meet at the 50-yard line and it’s an amazing feeling to be there the first time.

How do you feel about the comparisons between you and Tom Brady?

I like watching a lot of quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. You can go down the line because there are a lot of good quarterbacks to watch. I like some of the younger guys as well. The kid in Seattle (Russell Wilson) is doing a great job and they’re having a pretty good season again. They’re going to be tough for the 49ers to beat.

What has been the most enjoyable part of retirement so far?
I have four kids and right now they’re all in college and heading down the path to success. For my wife and I, getting them to that point is our biggest success.

Other than Cabernet Sauvignon Montagia, will you produce another wine?
We did it as a charity thing. At the time, Ed Spragia was the winemaker at Beringer and they had a big wine auction in the Napa Valley. They had a great idea to blend a wine together and put it in an auction with all the money going to the firefighters, hospital and police in the area. We had fun and raised some $200,000 for the auction. We made our last batch a year or so ago.

What teams do you predict will go all the way in Superbowl 48?
I’ll probably get in trouble for saying it but Seattle and Denver.

An Evening with Joe Montana takes place at the Kerry Hotel on Monday 18 November. See event listings for details.

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