LONDON -- Joe Montana shared his pointed thoughts on the 49ers' move out of San Francisco -- as well as cherished memories and Steve Young's presence -- during a surprise guest appearance at Saturday's NFL fan forum with commissioner Roger Goodell.
"I don't think there was really any -- without naming anybody -- an effort by the people in power to try to keep them there," Montana said of San Francisco city officials. "To me, they made a terrible effort to try to keep them in San Francisco.
—...Once the (Santa Clara) stadium is up, everyone will be happy and won't care where it's located. Still, it's not like they went to Oakland."
Montana drew laughs with that and several other responses during the hour-long forum, which also included former Jacksonville Jaguars lineman Tony Boselli and came on the eve of Sunday's 49ers-Jaguars game at Wembley Stadium.
Goodell was the keynote speaker in the ballroom for over 100 invited fans who were decked out in various teams' jerseys. The biggest news Goodell shared was that he doesn't care whether Los Angeles or London gets a franchise first, but that London must have one before the Super Bowl is exported here.
Later, Goodell noted that Aldon Smith's month-long treatment after a drunken-driving arrest will factor into how the league disciplines him, if at all.
Montana drew about as many questions as Goodell, and here are the questions Montana answered:
Q: What lingering injuries does he have from his playing days?
A: "Um, I can't remember," Montana deadpanned, prompting Goodell to shake his head in amused disbelief. "I played 16 years and in a physical game like we have, there are not whole lot of men that come out of there without something. I had like six or seven knee-scope surgeries, three backs, two necks and a torn tendon off my elbow. But all that said, probably my knee, of all my injuries, is the one that gives me the most problem every day. I'm kind of avoiding the old transplant for as long as I can. Other than that, everything else comes and goes. The neck would probably be the next one to go bad."
Q: What was the best play of his career?
A: "If I had to pick one, I threw a touchdown pass in the last minutes of the Super Bowl. That was kind of a dream come true. I won the Super Bowl a thousand times in my backyard growing up. I used to make my neighbor dive for the ball. J.T. (John Taylor) made a nice catch and a nice route. I'll never forget that. There's no better way for a quarterback to finish a season than that."
Q: What was the hardest hit or toughest defenders you've faced?
A: "It was probably one that ended my career in San Francisco. As an offense, you don't fear guys or players. You'd have to worry about a couple every now and then. Typically in our offensive system, we didn't worry about people. There was a couple we were concerned about on occasion, and one was Lawrence Taylor, and the other was Reggie White. They're have different abilities in different parts of the defense. You watch Lawrence Taylor on film, and he's running over the running back as he's trying to pass protect; you try to run away from him and he runs you down from behind. Reggie, he was just a beast in the middle. ... In most cases we tried to make people worry about us more than worry about them."
Q: What are your views of the 49ers moving out of Candlestick and to Santa Clara?
A: I understand what people's concerns are about leaving San Francisco. Everyone has their own understanding of why that took place. I don't think there was really any -- without naming anybody -- an effort by the people in power to try to keep them there. To me, they made a terrible effort to try to keep them in San Francisco. Where they planned the stadium would have been close to where the (Giants') baseball stadium is, and now where the Warriors are planning on building. It would have been a tremendous complex down there. With that being said, Candlestick is, when they ask you the worst places you've ever played, for the longest time, our home field was one of the worst places you would want to play. It could not rain for a year and you'd go in there and it'd be soaking wet. Last year, it was the first year I noticed the field where I said, 'Wow, what happened?' They finally figured out the field was below the water table. They used to call it the quagmire, because that's what it was, always wet. It's very difficult, watching a football game in a baseball stadium is not the best. The first time a couple years ago, my son was playing at Notre Dame and they were playing Navy back at the Giants and Jets' stadium. When you get to a football stadium and watch a game that's been struggling a bit in this area, it's a completely different experience. Once the fans see and taste that experience, they're going to be happy they're out in Santa Clara. Candlestick is just very, very outdated. Not only that for the home team, for the teams coming in, it's just not very fun. Once the stadium is up, everyone will be happy and won't care where it's located. Still, it's not like they went to Oakland."
Q: What was your relationship like with Steve Young?
A: "You ever had anybody try to take your job? (Laughs, applause ensues). It's a team game but it all starts with individual efforts. So my job with Steve was basically to make sure he stayed behind me. The game is not the same when you stand on the sideline with your uniform on. After you experience that, you don't want to be anywhere else. We had a working relationship. But it was one of those things where I didn't care if it was Steve Young, Steve Bono, Steve DeBerg -- I had a whole bunch of Steves -- it didn't matter who it was for me. It was my job that I felt I had to make sure they stayed over there watching me as long as possible. But it's a competitive relationship. ... I didn't feel bad for him."
Q: What was it like going to the Pro Bowl?
A: "The first couple times you go, it was exciting. After that, sorry commissioner, but you're trying to say, 'Oh my knee hurts.' There's two different levels: guys that are there going full speed, and other guys saying, 'Slow down, nobody gets hurt here.' That's the general feeling. You want to play, but you don't want anyone to get hurt where it ends your career or not play the following season. It's a tough game and a tough decision on how you approach it. We saw what happened a couple years ago."
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In a post-forum news conference, Goodell was asked about the recent PBS' documentary "League of Denial."
Q: How do you feel about the allegations of a concussion crisis
Goodell: "We've taken a leadership role here. Concussions are a global issue. We were over here recently talking about it and in other sports beyond that. We're leading the way. We're doing pioneering research. We're changing our rules, our equipment. All of that brought more awareness to the injury. The NFL, I think, deserves a lot of credit and leadership for that. We're changing not just the way football's played but all those sports, and how we treat these injuries. Those are positive changes."
Q: Alex Smith lost his job by taking himself out of the game because of a concussion. Is there a concern players don't want to reveal concussions and lose their position?
Goodell: "Every player makes their own decision. That's one reason we have a spotter at the game, looking at a particular impact. We've added additional medical professionals on the sideline to monitor the players, see those impacts and be sure to evaluate them. We're also getting teammates to come forward and say, 'I don't think my teammate is well.' All of those things are contributing to a greater awareness. We want the players to come forward and do it in a way they can get the proper medical treatment, get healthy and resume their careers sooner."