As strange as it may seem, 49ers legend Joe Montana will not attend a game during the team’s final season at Candlestick Park.
The Hall of Fame quarterback has been busy traveling all season, and hasn’t attended a game since last year. That means one of the men most responsible for the success the team has had over the past 30 years will not be there to say goodbye when the Niners host the Atlanta Falcons in the Candlestick finale on Monday.
Montana is not exactly the sentimental type, however, preferring to spend time with his family, watching his son Nick play for Tulane in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday.
“There’s a lot of great memories there,” he said. “But everyone will admit it’s not ultimately the field that you want to be known for. You want to be known for a good field not for, ‘Oh, my god we’ve got to go to Candlestick to play.’ It’s not because they were playing the 49ers, it’s because they knew what the field was like.”
He said the facility was not what he expected from a professional team when he first arrived after being drafted out of Notre Dame in 1979. He went on to play 14 seasons in San Francisco before spending his final two with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Oddly enough, he said the winds themselves didn’t affect the team’s games as much as one might think. Instead it was the dirt from the infield being blown around the field, making it difficult to see at times and making things tough on the kickers should they have to launch a field goal from the crushed brick on the ground.
As many big moments as Montana himself orchestrated, he was on hand for one of the Stick’s biggest moments, which had nothing to do with football. He was in the stadium with his wife and infant son on Oct. 17, 1989, to watch the Giants play the A’s in the World Series, and anybody who lived in the Bay Area can tell you what happened: the Loma Prieta earthquake.
“We were in our seats and we felt the earthquake and the lights went out,” he said. “My wife was going, ‘We’ve got to go, let’s get out of here.’ And I’m going, ‘No, we’ve got to stay, I want to watch the game.’”
Eventually they did leave the stadium, though his wife still gives him a hard time about it to this day.
The memories are what he said he will hang on to, saying those are “all engrained in my memory” and that ceremonies would not change that.