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Joe Montana raised a lot of eyebrows on the football field but never as many eyebrows flew up in wonder since Joe announced he is asking $49 million for his place in Knights Valley. Forty-nine million dollars? Is that the former 49er quarterback?s sense of humor? Is there an oil well in every bathroom? No one will pay that price, I?ve heard. Absurd. Ah, but those people miss the point.

This is the house in which Joe brushed his teeth and, as any collector will tell you, the intimacy of any object up for sale influences greatly the actual purchase price. The lucky buyer will be able to stand where Joe and Jennifer stood. They?ll be able to laugh where Joe and Jen laughed. They?ll see a droplet-sized water stain in the foyer and immediately know this is where Joe stood and cried when he found out John York was running the 49ers.

This is what the very rich do. They buy sports collectibles. Like Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. Or George Steinbrenner and the Yankees. It?s another trophy, another possession, to do with as they please, although we doubt the new homeowners will put Spider-Man stickers on the walls.

Of course calling the 500-acre Montana estate a home is a like calling a Ferrari a baby carriage. The ?home? resides in both Sonoma and Napa counties, according to the Wall Street Journal. It has 22-foot high ceilings, tapestry, oversized velvet furniture, European artwork, iron gates and paintings bought when Joe and Jen went on European shopping sprees. Seventeen horse stalls in the equestrian center are made equine-comfortable with heat lamps, fans and video cameras ? suitable for preening, apparently. A pond 45 feet deep is stocked with bass and surrounded by a man-made, white-sand beach.

So the place has a lot of goodies, but horses and baroque furnishings and a fishing hole can be found elsewhere. What makes the place unique, other than the asking price, is that Joe Slept Here and Joe is the most famous of all the 49ers, the one player most responsible for those four Super Bowls.

Joe and Jen should know it?s good form, not to mention good PR, to make a deal too sweet to refuse, something that represents the personal touch; that $49 million should carry some intimacy with it.

?Like a tin canister by the front door filled with $20 million,? said my colleague, Eric Branch, not that Eric was saying the price is too high. Actually, Eric was SCREAMING the price is too high.

Be that as it may, Joe should agree as a condition of sale to play a touch football game every Thanksgiving on one of his former lawns. No rushing the quarterback. Definitely no tackling the quarterback. Quarterback plays shotgun and does not have to reach for any center snap that forces him to extend his arms. Quarterback must stay afterward and sign any and all autographs. Quarterback does not have to answer questions about current 49er ownership. Quarterback will allow himself to be treated like a deity if he so chooses. Pictures allowed. Hugs, only with Jen present.

While you?re at it, leave a Super Bowl ring, Joe. Leave a horse in the pasture, too.

A precedent already has been set. Before he won the Cy Young and was just an up-and-coming pitcher in the big leagues, Johan Santana ? then a member of the Minnesota Twins ? offered his sport-utility vehicle on eBay with this sweetener: ?Buy the SUV and Johan will give an autographed jersey to the purchaser and take the buyer out to dinner.? All that and maybe an added bonus: The buyer later gets to claim Johan picked spinach out of his teeth.

Joe?s house is the ultimate sports collectible. The Ultimate. Ty Cobb?s wooden false teeth once fetched $7,475. Never, ever underestimate the obsessed irrationality of the sports collector, which is explains why someone once paid $25,000 for a jockstrap worn by Nolan Ryan. Laundered, we assume.

Right now Joe?s telling us his name is worth $49 million, and wouldn?t you just love to be a fly on the wall to see the reaction of potential buyers when Joe?s representatives say with a straight face, ?We?ll accept $49 million and not a penny less. Joe slept here and you can, too.?

For more on North Bay sports go to Bob Padecky?s blog at padecky.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.

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