Joe Montana is in the short discussion for the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, but he's paid a heavy price for his overwhelming success.
One of two players along with Tom Brady to win three Super Bowl Most Valuable Player awards and the only quarterback other than Terry Bradshaw to post a perfect 4-0 record in the Super Bowl, Montana detailed to USA TODAY the physical toll that his bodied endured during his starry career with the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.
"My whole family likes to live on the edge, so some of the things I regret that I can't do with them," said Montana, who guided San Francisco to four world championships in nine seasons. "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."
Montana, 59, who will be among six Super Bowl MVPs to participate in the coin toss prior to Sunday's matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, cited arthritis as a daily -- and nightly -- reminder of the rigors of his former profession. It affects his knees, elbows and hands.
"My hands have been, oh my gosh, in the middle of the night they hurt like crazy," Montana said.
Surgeries have been commonplace for Montana, who has undergone six procedures on one knee as well as three neck fusions. And he expects to go under the knife again for both issues.
"They kept saying I'll need a knee replacement when I can't walk. I can't really run or do much with it," Montana said. "I think I'm headed down the fusion thing again. ... The path of a nerve they think is being affected."
Montana revealed the litany of maladies just days after doctors discovered CTE in the brain of the late Ken Stabler, who also starred in the Bay Area as a quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. In fact, doctors told Montana nerve damage in his eye is a result of head trauma.
"Can't figure out where that came from," Montana quipped. "Unfortunately, most of us leave this game with things that linger."