Joe Montana: The San Francisco 49ers' Legendary Prankster
San Francisco 49ers' legend Joe Montana not only picked apart opposing defenses, he also victimized his own teammates.
Back when the 49ers held training camp at Sierra College in Rocklin, the legendary San Francisco quarterback had a thing for playing pranks with his fellow 49ers' property and giving teammates new names.
But he especially loved messing with his teammates' rented mountain bicycles.
During those days, players would stay at dorms on the campus which are about one third of a mile away from the practice field. However, when the days got too hot, players would rent bikes from a local shop to avoid walking in the blistering California heat.
"It's become a tradition with him," former wide receiver Mike Wilson said in The Football Hall of Shame 2. "During the 1989 training camp, Joe let the air out of the tires of everyone's bicycles."
According to Wilson, who joined the 49ers in 1981, Montana hid bikes in trees and on top of campus buildings for years and was a witness to Montana letting the air out of everyone's bikes during training camp in 1989.
The quarterbacks were usually the first players to get out of team meetings, so Montana and his cohorts always had ample time to cause havoc with the bicycles as the rest of the team sat inside with the coaches.
"Every other day, you'd find your bike up in the tree," former linebacker Jim Fahnhorst exclaimed in The Football Hall of Shame 2. "It was so dark when you came out of our evening meetings that it took you 15 to 20 minutes to find a bike and then, when you did find it, you discovered that it wasn't yours!"
The cunning Montana usually waited until the final days of training camp to pull the pranks since this is usually when the team is most fatigued.
"On the last day of training camp (1989), there must have been ten bikes up in the trees," Wilson continued on in The Football Hall of Shame 2. "Joe had some help from Steve Young."
Montana also had a knack for giving his teammates nicknames. The three-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player gave Tom Rathman the name "Woody" because he thought the fullback looked like actor Woody Harrelson.
"Joe Montana is a guy that named everybody," Rathman said on the 1989 San Francisco 49ers edition of America's Game. "Joe thought I looked like the character from Cheers, the bartender."
Montana also tried to give star wide receiver Jerry Rice a new nickname to go along with "Flash 80."
"They called him (Rice) Fifi one year," Rathman chuckled further on America's Game. "If you go back to '87, look at his haircut, looks like a poodle!"
"I had this hairstyle that was very unique," Rice responded in America's Game. "And they started calling me Fifi and I was a little pissed off about it at first, but then I was OK, just let these guys have their fun because whenever you get defensive they (Montana and his accomplices) feel like they got you."
However, one nickname still survives for the one and only Montana.
"Birdlegs," Rice laughed in America's Game. "He had no legs, no calves or anything!"
Not even the legendary Joe Montana was immune to his own medicine.
"But I'll tell you what," Rathman stated further on America's Game. "Those 'Birdlegs' got him out of a lot of trouble."
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