Life after the NFL: Super Bowl hero Joe Montana can't run, struggles with other activities

Football legend Joe Montana will perform the coin toss for Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium this weekend, then head off to a luxury suite to watch the game.

The role of spectator is one he's gotten used to  — and not just when it comes to NFL games. At 59, Montana says he is unable to take part in almost all of the physical activities he once enjoyed because of a multitude of physical problems that are a result of his 15 years in the league.

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“My whole family likes to live on the edge, so some of the things I regret that I can’t do with them,’’ the four-time Super Bowl champion told USA Today. “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.’’

Montana said he’s unable to straighten his knee despite six surgeries to that area.

“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.’’

And that’s just one of Montana’s many physical ailments these days.

He recently had elbow surgery; he’s had three neck fusions, and he thinks another one will be necessary soon; he has arthritis in his elbows, knees and hands; and there’s nerve damage in one eye that a doctor told him was from head trauma.

That’s just life after the NFL, Montana said.

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


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