Wayne Fontes reveals Hall of Fame QB wanted to join Barry Sanders in Detroit
In a revelation that might have changed the course of NFL history, former Detroit Lions coach Wayne Fontes disclosed that legendary quarterback Joe Montana expressed a desire to play with iconic running back Barry Sanders in Detroit in 1993. In Amazon's new documentary about Sanders, Fontes recalls how Montana, while parting ways with the San Francisco 49ers, reached out to him with the idea of joining the Lions.
Montana Wanted to Team Up With Barry
Fontes was thrilled at the prospect of having two of football’s greatest players on his team. However, the Lions' general manager at the time, Chuck Schmidt, was less enthusiastic, considering Montana was past his prime.
“[Montana] called me and he said, ‘I'd love to play with you and Barry Sanders,' Fontes said. “I nearly jumped off my desk.”
“I went and saw Chuck Schmidt and I said, ‘We got a chance at Joe Montana,' Fontes recalled. “But Chuck Schmidt said, ‘He's too old. He's over the hill. He's done, another year.' I went back to Joe and said, ‘I'm sorry.'”
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- Joe Montana wanted to join the Detroit Lions to play with Barry Sanders in 1993.
- Lions’ management declined the opportunity, deeming Montana past his prime.
- Montana’s move to the Chiefs was successful, while the Lions didn’t advance past wild card rounds.
Bottom Line: A What-If in NFL Lore
This revelation from Wayne Fontes adds a tantalizing chapter to NFL lore, a ‘what-if' scenario that fans can only dream about. The potential combination of Montana and Sanders in Detroit could have significantly altered both players' careers and the Lions’ fortunes. It highlights the fine line between decisions made by team management and their long-lasting impact on a team's trajectory. While Montana found success with the Chiefs, the Lions’ inability to progress in the playoffs might have been different with a quarterback of Montana's caliber. What could have been?