Joe Montana on Patriots: 'If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying'

Over the summer, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana admitted that his Super Bowl-winning 49ers teams were known to skirt the rules, and this week he reiterated that stance, saying that cheating is part of the game -- and that includes the Belichick-Brady era Patriots.

"They always say, 'If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying,'" Montana told NFL Network's Andrew Sicliano. "So they're trying hard."

"Are [the Patriots] cheating hard or trying hard?" Siciliano asked.

"Could be both," said Montana.

Siciliano then asked how difficult it is to know the line between gamesmanship and cheating.

"Well, they have this thing called the rulebook," Montana said, smiling. "When you step outside the rule book, you're fudging it a little bit."

As for whether those 49ers teams cheated, Montana restated, "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'," before adding, "You know, everybody does everything they can to possibly get a little bit of an edge. I mean, back then it wasn't illegal but it was illegal, like our guys used to spray — and everybody did it at the time — silicone on their jerseys, the linemen, so that the defensive linemen couldn't get a hold of them. And the defensive linemen did it so the offensive linemen couldn't hold them. It's a game. Everybody wants to win, so you do whatever you can to make it happen."

Back in January, shortly after Deflategate first broke and days before the Patriots faced the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, Montana spoke frankly about Brady's likely involvement.

"If I ever want a ball a certain way, I don't do it myself," Montana said at the time. "So, somebody did it for him. But I don't know why everybody is making a big deal out of trying to figure out who did it. It's pretty simple. If it was done, it was done for a reason."

Five months later -- and nearly three months before Brady's four-game suspension was vacated by a federal judge -- Montana made it clear that while Brady broke the rules, he didn't have a problem with it.

"It is one of those things that is a rule, right? It might be a dumb rule, but it doesn't matter. He didn't deflate them himself, but you can pick up the ball and can tell if it is underinflated, overinflated or what you like. Everybody is afraid to say it, but if the guy did it, so what. Just pay up and move on. It's no big deal."

Joe Montana doesn't seem bothered by the allegations that the Patriots cheated. (USATSI)
Joe Montana doesn't seem bothered by the allegations that the Patriots cheated. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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