Look, Super Bowl Time™ can be heated, and this week between the Chiefs and Niners has been no different. Whether it be practice field jousting or re-litigating Super Bowl LIV, we need some common ground. So, why shouldn’t it be over Joe Montana Sports Talk Football?
An all-time QB who played for both franchises, Joe Montana is an icon. Four Super Bowl rings with the 49ers means he’s always going to be known for those years, but a lot of people from my generation probably know him best as a QB for the Chiefs because he was all over Sega Genesis video game cartridges, starring in the Joe Montana football games for multiple years.
Like a lot of sports series from the ’90s, there’s a weird history to this franchise. Joe Montana Football came out in January 1991, and the history of that game alone is wild. Sega of America gave the development project to a company that would later become Activision. The only problem was Activision lied the whole time about the game’s development. After five months, the lies came apart and Sega realized there was no game and had just a couple months to have something prepped for the holidays.
So Sega went to EA of all places and asked them to make their football game for them and also cancel Madden on Sega Genesis for that year. EA went “lol. lmao, even” and obviously did not cancel Madden but did make the original version of Joe Montana Football by taking old Madden code and making it the basis of Joe Montana. EA also intentionally made the game worse than Madden in a true power move.
Regardless, the series would survive that wild start, and Joe Montana Football II: Sports Talk Football and NFL Sports Talk Football ’93 are the two versions I remember best because of the Tecmo-style side view, and the fact that I still say “I can’t believe it!” and “it’s a fake!” in my daily life. I will never, ever get Lon Simmons’ voice out of my head.
But the version that’s likely the most well known — if you can keep all the name changes of this series throughout the years straight — is NFL Football ’94 Starring Joe Montana. This is the version that had both the NFLPA and NFL licenses so it had a big leg up over Madden ’94 that year because Madden only had the NFL license. So we had real player names in NFL ’94 but just numbers in Madden ’94. It also had what I think is the most iconic of the Montana box art covers.
The series would go on one more season with Montana on the cover with NFL ’95, but I don’t really remember that version, and then Sega would move on to Prime Time NFL Starring Deion Sanders and eventually birth the NFL 2K series down the line.
Of course, it had to end weird in all ways, so Montana would sue Sega for millions of dollars later in the ’90s, and we’d even get rumors of a Joe Montana Football console game for multiple years in a classic case of vaporware.
Still, Chiefs fans and Niners fans should be able to appreciate this little piece of nostalgia, and since there’s no games with Elvis Grbac or Alex Smith on the cover, this is the best I’ve got for trying to smooth things over between each city’s fans ahead of Super Bowl LVIII.