Sports teams, sports leagues, sport seasons, playoffs, championships mark time like nothing else. As the last decade of the millennium began that January, it was the beginning of the end for my marriage, as it would turn out to be for Joe Montana appearing in the Super Bowl. Time is a most mysterious thing. A major preoccupation of western philosophy is whether man has the ability to know time. I definitely felt something was afoot, that some momentous shift was underway that winter. The 49ers had never looked so machine-like as they did that year. They had a slightly better record in their 1984 championship season, and that was probably a better team. But it was a joyous affair, whereas the 1989 San Francisco 49ers were all corporately-perfected business.
The next season the 49ers would equal their 14-2 regular season record of 1989. Montana was reaching a level of control and mastery at quarterback that is hard for us to understand today -- like Drew Brees, but mentally stronger; like Tom Brady, but more able to create opportunities for victory; like Aaron Rodgers, but more of a leader. If you want to see what I'm talking about, check out the 1990 NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants and the 49ers. Before Montana is knocked out of the game by a vicious blindside Leonard Marshall hit, he is in control -- a man at the top of the game.
That hit by Marshall would cause Montana to miss nearly two seasons with an elbow injury. When he returned, Steve Young had assumed leadership of the 49ers. Eddie DeBartolo traded Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs in the spring of 1993.
By that time I was divorced, living in Brooklyn with my new girlfriend and getting ready to move to Texas. I would listen on the kitchen radio in San Antonio as Montana made his playoff run that 1993 season with the Chiefs. But the loss the 49ers suffered to the New York Giants in the 1990 NFC Championship that brought the Montana-era to an abrupt end -- I watched the game at a friend's Manhattan basement apartment --would also spell the end of my life as I lived it up until then, a life lugubriously recorded in this "Colt 45 Chronicle." From the spring of 1990 forward I would lead a much more solitary existence. My transition to this new lifestyle and the end of the Joe Montana-era will be told in Shit Stinks, a spontaneous prose document written the summer of 1991. But for now, it's letter number 38.
I'm tardy in my correspondence. Let me explain. I believe that when I wrote you the last time I spent a small amount of space filling you in on my resignation (immediate and verbal) from the polluted Wall Street law offices of DAVIS POLK & WARDWELL. Well, as it all turns out, I was out of work for almost a month, enough time to enjoy the eerie, truly eerie, 49ers devastation of any and all playoff competition. It was so goddamn eerie and alien for me, a dyed-in-the-wool career 49er sufferer and supporter, that I would hit the bourbon and get speech-slurring drunk, being better able to deal with what was going to happen next by looking at it through flannel gauze Jack Daniels glasses. Anyway, it ended joylessly in New Orleans in the most perverse -- most lopsided -- scoring orgy in the history of the Super Bowl.