Report: Joe Montana contacted by FBI in corruption sting

May 6, 2014

Throughout his playing career — and in the 20 years since his retirement — Joe Montana has maintained a clean-cut image. The Notre Dame golden boy passed over repeatedly in the draft, only to join the San Francisco 49ers and usher in perhaps the greatest dynasty in NFL history, Montana carved out one of the greatest careers in football history, and used his good looks and smooth style to score a haul of endorsement deals in his day.

And since his retirement, Montana has remained relatively secluded, working in real-estate development and rarely doing interviews — except when it comes to the FBI, apparently.

According to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, the Feds contacted Montana in connection with a highly publicized corruption sting.

The report states that Montana, 57, "was contacted by an undercover FBI operative about an unspecified business proposition during the Yee-Chow investigation, according to one source familiar with the case."

The case in question is one which has landed California state Democratic Sen. Leland Yee and alleged Chinatown mobster Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow in jail. Yee and Chow were arrested in March, an FBI affidavit alleging Yee conducted wire fraud as well as engaged in conspiracy to illegally deal firearms while Chow was charged with money laundering.

For Montana's part, however, the Chronicle stated that the inquiry into the Hall of Famer "came up empty," and quoted an anonymous source as stating: "Nobody has said he did anything wrong."

In fact, according to the report, the judge in the case plans to issue a protective order out of fear that Montana's — and perhaps others' — names would surface in relation to the case.

"It's important that people who are innocently involved are not subjected to undue speculation," U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said in open court April 17, according to the Chronicle.

When the paper contacted an attorney for one of the defendants about the meeting between the FBI and Montana, he said: ""I have nothing to say affirmatively or negatively" about it.

Montana's attorney, Rob Mezzetti, told the paper: "If the FBI was reaching out to Joe, I would know about it — and nobody has reached out to him."

And FBI spokesman Peter Lee said: "I wouldn't be able to confirm or deny that interaction."

Montana has reportedly "pursued a couple of politically sensitive development deals in the Bay Area — a luxury hotel next to the 49ers' new Santa Clara stadium and a $300 million transit village next to the South Hayward BART Station."

The Chronicle reported that just in the last two weeks, Montana and a business partner signed into an initial business agreement with Santa Clara for a $400 million development project that includes a hotel, offices and restaurant named after Montana.

Montana spent 16 seasons in the NFL, the first 14 with the 49ers and the final two with Kansas City. (He sat out the 1991 season and played in only one game in 1992 — his final two seasons with the 49ers.)

He won four Super Bowls with the 49ers and is the only three-time Super Bowl MVP. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.