Everyone loves an underdog story. Well, everyone except Joe Montana.
The legendary San Francisco 49ers quarterback made waves in recent years by clarifying the climactic moment in 1993's "Rudy." (SPOILER ALERT. DON'T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN'T FOUND TIME OVER THE PAST 29 YEARS TO SEE "RUDY".)
"Rudy" is the story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger's dream of playing college football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He has to jump through several hoops in order to achieve his dream, like initially attending Holy Cross College to boost his grades and sleeping in an office at Notre Dame Stadium. He perseveres and eventually gets his chance to play in the final game of his senior year. To the chants of "Rudy" coming from the crowd, Ruetigger records a sack and is carried off the field by his teammates.
The sack and post-game celebration are the big payoff after seeing Rudy persevere throughout the entire film. However, Montana, who was on the Notre Dame football team at the time, revealed the whole thing was a sham.
Montana Says Carrying Off Rudy Was More of a Prank Than Heartwarming Moment
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Back in 2010, Montana debunked "Rudy's" climactic moment on "The Dan Patrick Show".
"It's a movie, remember," Montana said. "Not all that's true."
"Well, what wasn't true?" asked host Dan Patrick
"Well, the crowd wasn't chanting, nobody threw in their jerseys," Montana continued. "You know, he did get in the game. He got carried off after the game. Back then, they tried to play someone at the end so all the seniors could get in at their last home game. The schedule was kind of set that way. So, he got in. He did get a sack, and then the guys carried him off just kind of playing around. I won't say it's a joke, but it was playing around. But, you know, he worked his butt off to get where he was and to do the things he did."
That's right. According to Joe Cool, your favorite sports movie moment is a complete lie. Actor Sean Astin, who played the titular character in the film, corroborated Montana's statement in an interview on Patrick's show in 2015.
"He was absolutely right. Joe Montana was right," Astin said. "There was a lot of fiction in the movie, but it's based on a true story."
"I want to say a couple of things," Astin continued. "Joe Montana was a freshman when Rudy was a senior. Joe Montana, when the movie came out, was one of the only people to get behind the story. He said he remembered Rudy. He said he really respected what happened. He was a really positive person around it. I don't know how many Super Bowl rings you have to win in order for someone you meet on the street to say 'Hey, did you meet the real guy who dressed for one game who played for 27 seconds?' I think Joe Montana has every right to put a little bit of context around the movie because he's a real person who had a real experience. The movie "Rudy" actually put out, when the movie came out, a list of things that were absolute creative license. For example, (then Notre Dame head coach) Dan Devine called into a radio station when [the real] Rudy was promoting the movie and he said 'If any kid would've put their jersey on my desk, they never would've seen it again.' It was a dramatization of an idea that the players were supporting him. Not true in the sense of did it actually, historically happen."
The Hall of Fame football player later double down on his comments on the "Pardon My Take" podcast in 2020.
"Was there a lot of things that happened? Yeah. He got in, he got a sack. Was the crowd chanting? No. Did I throw in my jersey? No. Did he get carried off the field? He got carried off by three of the biggest pranksters on the team."
However, not every Notre Dame player agrees with Montana's opinion. Former Irish defensive lineman Jay Achterhoff told TMZ the movie was "98% true."
"Rudy was carried off the field that day...but not as a joke -- but because he finally got to play," Achterhoff said. "You've never in your life seen a guy who wanted to be on the field more."
Achterhoff later added he was "disappointed that [Montana] wasn't more supportive of Rudy."
So, the events in "Rudy" may not have played out exactly how they went in real life. However, if you enjoyed the movie, you enjoyed the movie. That's it. I highly doubt Montana has ever given "Rudy" a rewatch, but even though his words may have ruined the sentiment of countless American families, he exposed the corruption of the movie industry.
Embellishment? In Hollywood? They'll never see another cent from me again.
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