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Sportsman of the Year : Football: Joe Montana becomes the first NFL player to win the Sports Illustrated honor by himself.

December 19, 1990|JIM JENKINS | McCLATCHY NEWS SERVICE

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — On a day Joe Montana made it abundantly clear he's against taking a rest in the final two games of the regular season, he received what he perceives as his greatest individual honor.

In accepting Sports Illustrated's award as Sportsman of the Year on Tuesday, Montana becomes the first NFL player to win the honor alone. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw and Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Willie Stargell were co-winners in 1979.

Of all the honors he's won, including being named the NFL's Most Valuable Player last season, Montana said the magazine's award means more "because you're not just competing with your peers . . . it goes outside those boundaries (of football)."

When asked who among the previous winners he most admired or identified with most, Montana chose 1989 winner Greg LeMond because "anybody who has pedaled a bicycle knows how hard it is . . . to do it back to back. (Winning the Tour de France) is a great accomplishment."

At 34, Montana says he has no intention of calling it quits, adding that his physical condition is better now than it was at this point last season.

"I'd still like to finish my contract," he said, which would take him at least through 1993.

For now, though, he has no desire for his body to be idle in the last two regular-season games, even though the 49ers have already clinched the best record in the conference.

"Being rested, maybe there's good to it," Montana said. "On the other hand, with too much rest you'd probably go in the other direction (i.e. stale)."

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