Back in 2010, San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana was a guest on the Dan Patrick show. During his interview on that show he was asked to elaborate on the story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger and his time with the University of Notre Dame. For reference sake, the story of Rudy pertains to a young undersized football player that captures his dream to play with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team in 1974 and 1975. The story was made into a Hollywood movie in 1993 under the simple tile "Rudy". And as many know already, Joe Montana was part of the Notre Dame football team as well in 1974 and 1975. So by judging the years spent there, as many would think their paths would have crossed, Dan Patrick wanted to get Montana’s take on it.
As so many well know now, Montana was less than enthusiastic about the subject. He really downplayed the story and the dramatic effect the movie portrayed.
"It’s a movie…not all that’s true. The crowd wasn’t chanting…nobody threw in their jerseys."
And when asked about Rudy being carried off the field at the end of the movie he responded that his teammates were…
"Kinda playing around. I won’t say as a joke, but playing around"
Now while Montana is perfectly entitled to his opinion, as he should be, he is a Hall of Famer and the best quarterback to ever play football in the NFL. His quotes do leave the general public with a very common misconception about the lives that both him and Rudy led at Notre Dame.
Many now think that the movie has blown the Rudy story way out of proportion. And that dramatic licensing pushed the movie to the success that it had. Unfortunately that is not entirely true. Sure, every true story movie has portions added for dramatic effect. But upon research, one can find that the paths of the two men hardly crossed at all.
Both Montana and Rudy came to the Notre Dame program in 1974. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that they knew anything about each other. Montana was a freshman, and back in 1974 freshman were not permitted to play or practice with the varsity squad. All of Montana’s playing time was against other freshman prepping for future roles on the team. Rudy on the other hand was playing with the varsity, but he was only playing as a practice squad participant. He was more or less a tackling dummy and never stepped foot on the field during an actual game. Not even on the sidelines. And with the varsity locker room more than likely filled to capacity with varsity players, the freshman teams probably made use of a separate facility as their locker room. So in no way did Montana and Rudy ever cross paths in 1974. And it’s hard to imagine that they knew about each other either. Montana would have never known of the last string, practice squad player on the team. And Rudy would have never known about a freshman quarterback who he had never practiced against. Their collective minds were focused on the task at hand, not on the roster of players who don’t see game time action.
It was only in 1975 when their paths crossed. And even then it was probably on a limited basis. Montana started three games for the Irish in 1975, so it’s fair to say that he met Rudy on a handful of occasions when he practiced against him. But again, Rudy was the very last man awarded a spot on the practice team, it would be absurd to think that Montana would let his focus drift to remembering individuals of the practice squad. Montana had to be focused on the playbook, on improving as a quarterback, on his schoolwork, on coaching direction, on a million different other things. He was a sophomore; he had more important things to concern himself with. So it’s fair to say that Montana did not know Rudy at least until halfway through the season. Rudy however, more than likely knew Montana. When Montana practiced with the first team, it was Rudy as one of the pass rushers trying to get to Montana. And with two or three different quarterbacks moving in and out of the first team line up, it’s probably likely that Rudy became familiar with all of them. But as varsity standards dictate, they don’t typically interact with the practice squad, only on the practice field. So at this point Rudy knows Montana, but it’s not likely that Montana knows Rudy.
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