On Easter Sunday, two days before his retirement news conference, he is watching his son rise from the swimming pool at the house in Atherton. The egg and the scavenger hunts are over, and Joe and his parents are eyeing the kids while Jennifer entertains a guest. Nicholas, the youngest and wildest child, is cavorting around naked and screaming up a storm. "Should we call a timeout?" Jennifer asks Joe, and the quarterback shrugs.
Later, the parents retreat to the weight room, home to most of Joe's mementos, including the three Super Bowl MVP trophies. The first of these is more than 13 years old and looks it—the metal is corroded, and the bar connecting the football to its base has been dislodged. It is a relic of a bygone era, and it is not, incidentally, Montana's proudest possession. That, he says, is an oversized, framed copy of the TIME magazine cover that featured Montana before his first Super Bowl.
Jennifer leaves to tend to the kids, and Joe draws a beer from the tap beside the outdoor barbecue. He takes a seat on the patio, fingering a nickel Nicholas has dropped. In front of Montana is a pool backed by a nicely groomed lawn that seems to stretch forever. He is talking about his most famous football moment, the last-minute touchdown drive that beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII, and his blue eyes sparkle as he meets his guest's gaze straight on.
Suddenly, Montana whirls, and the arm reaches back in that same, sweet motion it did for three decades. Then the arm snaps forward, and 20 feet away, the nickel grazes the feet of a blue jay that has ventured too close to the pool. The bird flies off into the open end of the yard, never looking back. Montana rests the arm on his chair and smiles.