Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stress on Kaepernick doesn't compare to pressure put on other 49ers Super Bowl quarterbacks

By the end of this week in New Orleans, when media access and clown questions are finally cut off, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will have addressed  just about every hot topic. From his unique talent in Turlock to his tattoos. From the pistol formation in Reno to the temptations of Bourbon Street. From his biological parents to Beyonce’s lip synching.

Whether Kaepernick cares to admit it, there is pressure surrounding him like beads on the necks of young voluptuous women in the French Quarter. He has won big game after big game in his brief 10-game stewardship in San Francisco and now he faces THE BIGGEST GAME OF THEM ALL!
Yet, the stress on Kaepernick to win the Super Bowl is minuscule compared to a couple of his predecessors. I remember them well. I was there with a pressure gauge.

Steve Young had the pressure of getting a King Kong-XXXL sized primate off his back in Miami to win Super Bowl XXIX.

Joe Montana had the pressure of getting the press off his back, a circumstance so encumbrance that Joe Cool brought down crying in a New Orleans hotel bathroom on the eve of Super Bowl XXIV.

The only pressure the seemingly unflappable Kaepernick is feeling right now is on his very own lips pressing against his biceps.

The last time the 49ers played a Super Bowl in New Orleans, in 1990, it was the media equivalent of Katrina in a pre-TMZ world. First, Montana’s second wife, Cass, sold her juicy story to the National Enquirer, detailing less than flattering details of their three-year marriage, which ended in 1984. She portrayed Montana as unfaithful, a coward and, well, basically what Taylor Swift apparently thinks of any and all of her ex-boyfriends.

Then the Baltimore Sun ran a story about Montana’s high school football coach who claimed that most everyone in Montana’s Pennsylvania hometown of Monongahela “hated him.” Sort of how most of us feel about the Kardashians.

Then, on the Thursday before the Super Bowl, Montana was grilled in a half-hour Rocky Balboa-like press session regarding a television report out of Washington, D.C. hours earlier that said blacks were being targeted more than whites in the NFL drug testing program. The report claimed three “unnamed white quarterbacks” had tested for drugs in the past 10 years.

Without even being named, Montana was being implicated like Al Quada. For years, he had repeatedly denied drug use and, thinking that was all in the past, it reared its ugly head again like Lindsay Lohan on the police blotter. Think of it this now as a media-frenzied fire alarm. Calling Dr. Drew. Calling Dr. Phil. Calling Nancy Grace.

In this day and age Montana would have had no choice but to go on Oprah to be forgiven.
Montana reached a breaking point. Or breakdown point. Accompanied by a 49ers public relations official, Montana ducked into a restroom before the press conference and wept, lamenting why he had to once again offer denials about accusations and rumors from a decade ago.

We, the assembled hand grenade drinking and tossing media horde in the Big Easy, wondered if the circus surrounding Montana in New Orleans would crush him and his inflamed right elbow.

Could Kaepernick handle such a hurricane of negative publicity on the eve of the Super Bowl? Montana sure did. 

Though his former coach Bill Walsh wrote a guest newspaper column predicting an easy victory and Terry Bradshaw, a John Elway-hater, offered an outlandish pre-game prediction of a 55-3, Montana faced this blitz of adversity and met every challenge with a completion.

Montana proceeded to throw a Super Bowl record five touchdown passes in a 55-10 win.

 Young forever lived in Montana’s shadow, like anyone following John Wooden at UCLA. Young could not escape it, even after a victory lap around Candlestick Park following the 49ers’ NFC championship game win over their nemesis, the Dallas Cowboys. Montana was batting 4-for-4 in Super Bowls and Young hadn’t even stepped to the plate.

So when Young arrived in Miami, his resume was stacked next to Montana and the bottom line on Young’s was “Never Could Win The Big One.” As the week wore on, Young heard more references about “Joe” than Penn State. 

Meanwhile, as the pressure was rising so was the betting line in Las Vegas. It opened at 19, grew to 21 and settled at 18 that the 49ers would beat the San Diego Chargers. Tensions mounted. The 49ers were built with Eddie Bartelolo’s money and Carmen Policy’s savvy to win this Super Bowl or else. Jerry Rice confronted hired gun Deion Sanders and accused him of not being serious enough during Super Bowl week. George Seifert was coaching for his job, as Policy crafted a plan to eventually replace him with offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan.

Could Kaepernick handle such massive meteoric expectations, distractions and possible implications on the eve of the Super Bowl? Young sure did.

At the age of 33 and with his best  -- and it turns out last  – chance to win the biggest game of all, Young proceeded to top Montana’s Super Bowl record, throwing six touchdown passes in a 46-26 victory.

 As the final seconds counted down, 49ers linebacker Gary Plummer feinted pulling an invisible proverbial monkey off Young’s back at Young’s request and he gleefully reacted as if the weight of the world had been lifted. 

Later, when Young accepted the Vince Lombardi Trophy, he put such a bear hug on it that it was as if he was a kid finally getting the Christmas gift he didn’t get on Christmas morning  … on the Fourth of July. 

Since that glorious day, the 49ers have started 15 different quarterbacks and Kaepernick is the first one to lead them to the Super Bowl.

Pressure?  The pressure Kaepernick is feeling for Super Bowl XLVII doesn’t compare to Montana and Young in their last Super Bowls. But the results will be similar.

49ers 31, Ravens 14. Apply lips to biceps.


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