He didn't have the best arm; he wasn't the fastest guy, or the biggest, or the strongest. What he did have, more than any other quarterback who has ever played the game, was a special kind of consciousness, which for four seconds at a time would kick in at a higher level than anyone else's. Call it Pocket Zen.
In the insane midst of the pocket, with linebackers fueled by 'roid rage flying through the air at the edge of his peripheral vision, fearsome tackles battering through the line toward him 2 feet away, cheetah-like safeties roaming the secondary ready to snatch a pass underthrown by a foot, the whole scene a wildly exploding Expressionist painting that could disintegrate into a bone-crunching, back-fracturing tackle at any moment, Montana would enter his dream.
This was where he came to life. This was where he triumphed.
The sleepy, assassin's nonchalance of the greats! As calmly as a sailor looking at the sea at dusk, a painter looking at the play of hues on his canvas, Montana would stand in the heart of that violence and see exactly what he needed to see. Montana is a nice but not terribly articulate man, but he once told me something wonderful: He wasn't always granted the gift during a game, he said, but when he was, it was like having "all the vision that you need."
Montana's eyes, as they scanned the field with small precise movements in that four-second span, were like those of a hawk adjusting its flight as it dropped down upon a sparrow. His vision was inexorable, like a clock or a guillotine. If there was a weakness, a slight flaw in the force shield made up of 11 fast, strong men, he would find it.
And when he found it, he would deliver the ball where it needed to go. He wasn't able to throw the ball into a 12-inch square 40 yards away because he had a great arm -- he could do it because if he didn't do it, he wouldn't win. His whole physiology was driven by a motor that made it hum like a Ferrari, and that motor was just this: He had to kick your ass. His arm was like Jerry Rice's speed. Not great -- just good enough, when you connected it to his heart, to make him the greatest who ever played his position. http://www.salon.com/news/sports/bounds/2000/08/01/montana/index.html