Montana and Lott join Hall of Fame

Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott, offensive and defensive leaders of one of the all-time great NFL teams, were reunited in the American Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday.

Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott, offensive and defensive leaders of one of the all-time great NFL teams, were reunited in the American Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday.

The pair, who led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl titles in the 1980s, headlined the Class of 2000 at an induction ceremony attended by 111 of the 136 living Hall of Famers.

Montana, considered by many to be the best quarterback ever to play the game, and Lott, one of the NFL's most dominant defensive backs, were inducted into the Hall along with the linebacker Dave Wilcox, a 49er from an earlier era, the former Raiders defensive end Howie Long and the Pittsburgh Steelers president, Dan Rooney. "It's an immense honour to be on this team," Montana said.

With so many legendary quarterbacks among the honoured guests at the millennial induction ceremony, the former 49ers owner, Eddie DeBartolo, had no qualms about singling out Montana for the accolade. "Simply stated, Joe Montana is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game," DeBartolo said. "I don't think we'll see the likes of him again."

"Ronnie was the heart and soul of our defence," DeBartolo said of Lott. "I'm as proud of him as I would be if my own son was going into the Hall of Fame."

Montana directed the high-powered 49ers attack while Lott took care of things when the other side had the ball as the NFL's "Team of the Eighties" reached four Super Bowls and won them all, collecting NFL championships in 1981, 1984, 1988 and 1989.

The former team-mates paid tribute to each other. "Joe gave me the courage to face adversity and deal with injuries," Lott said of Montana during his induction speech. "He taught me to never give up. I'm so happy to be here with him today."

Said Montana: "On the field and off the field, Ronnie is what a team-mate is supposed to be. Ronnie speaks and Ronnie delivers. He could talk the talk and walk the walk."

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