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Tom Landry decided to pass on Joe Montana

Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry is a legend as is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. As it turns out, they came close to enjoying their careers on the same team. But, as luck would have it, Landry decided to pass on Montana.

At the time, there was no way to know that a quarterback from Notre Dame that was still available in the third round had the right stuff. Landry wasn’t the only coach to pass on him—two or three times. But as former Cowboys PR man Greg Aiello tells the story, Joe Montana should have been a Cowboy.

Back in the day, the Cowboys preferred to draft the best player on the board. When it came time for Dallas to choose in the third round, Montana was at the top of their board. So, if they were to do like they always do, they’d draft Montana.

“I’m wide-eyed and in the draft room,” Aiello told Clark Judge of The Talk of Fame Network, “and I was a graduate of Note Dame. So, I had a particular interest as we got into the third round — and our pick was coming up — in the guy at the top of our board, Joe Montana. I was curious what we were going to do.”

He went on to recall what Landry said: ‘Well, we have three quarterbacks better than him right now.’ In other words, why would we want to take him?

Those three quarterbacks were Roger Staubach, Danny White, and Glenn Carano (who had been a second-round pick).

So, Tom Landry decided to break from the system and not take him.

The rest is history.