Joe Montana Career: ‘Former 49ers QB’ says he’s still dealing with NFL injuries

Joe Montana Career: Former 49ers QB says he's still dealing with NFL injuries

Joe Montana says his career left him with physical ailments ahead of Super Bowl 50.

In an interview with USA TODAY Sports, Joe Montana detailed the extensive physical problems suffers from more than two decades after he ended his NFL career in 1994.

“The mental part was hard initially when I first retired,’’ said Montana, 59, who won four Super Bowls as quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. “Because it’s quick – cold turkey, the game’s gone. Then the physical stuff tries to catch up with you.’’

To hear it from Montana, it sounds like he has spent as much time in an orthopedist’s office than he did on the football field. Start with his arthritis, which is in one of his elbows, his knees and his hands.

“My hands have been, oh my gosh, in the middle of the night they hurt like crazy,’’ Montana said.

Then there’s the balky knee he can’t straighten despite a half-dozen surgeries.

“They kept saying I’ll need a knee replacement when I can’t walk,’’ he said. “I can’t really run or do much with it.’’

Recently, Montana said, he had elbow surgery and now he’s got problems in his neck. To date, he’s had three neck fusions.

“I think I’m headed down the fusion thing again,’’ Montana said. “… The path of a nerve they think is being affected.’’

There’s more nerve damage in one of his eyes.

“It acts like a lazy eye to some degree because every time you’re tired, it kind of goes wherever it feels like a little bit,’’ Montana said. “Not dramatic but just enough where you can’t read or you have to refocus.’’

A doctor said the nerve damage resulted from head trauma, according to Montana.

“Can’t figure out where that came from,’’ Montana deadpanned, assuming that the host of physical problems resulted from the pounding he took during his football career.

When he retired, Montana said, he thought he’d done so early enough to live an active physical life with his wife and their three children. He has discovered otherwise, having been reduced to spectator when his two grown sons surf or ski.

“My whole family likes to live on the edge, so some of the things I regret that I can’t do with them,’’ Montana said. “Like snowboarding. I fell like 50 times within 30 yards off the top of the ski lift. … I love basketball. I can’t play basketball. I can shoot, but that’s about it. I can’t run up and down the court. My knee just gives out.

“I tried a little bit of skiing, but unfortunately when you get weight on one ski under my left knee, it’s just not very strong. After my first back surgery, what kind of compounds things, is my sciatic nerve has been damaged. So the muscles along my sciatic nerve into my left foot have been numb since ’86.’’

After Montana handles the coin toss, he will head into a luxury suite and in the company of other retired Super Bowl MVPs watch the Carolina Panthers play the Denver Broncos. Montana suggests some of the players may feel the game decades from now.

“Unfortunately,’’ he said, “most of us leave this game with things that linger.’’

Sportact Editors and Wire Services