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Joe Montana Says Patriots 'Made A Mistake' Letting Tom Brady Go

BOSTON (CBS) -- When it comes to the game of football, there isn't much that Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana doesn't understand. But he's somewhat confused at what the New England Patriots are doing this offseason.

Mainly, why the heck did they let Tom Brady leave the only franchise he's ever played for? Montana is baffled that Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick didn't want to bring Brady back for a shot at their seventh Super Bowl together.

"I don't know what's going on inside there, but somebody made a mistake," the quarterback legend told Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY Sports. "I think when you look at the whole situation, you try to figure out how you want to get away from things that are there. I had a different story, where they had made a decision. He, obviously, they never would have gotten rid of. I still don't understand how New England let him get away. I don't understand that."

Montana was a wizard at picking apart defenses and leading his offense down the field during his playing days, winning four Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers. But he was traded by San Fran in the twilight of his career, sent to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993 in a move that shook up the NFL.

Unlike Montana, Brady had a choice this offseason. And he chose to say goodbye to the Patriots after 20 years in New England, signing a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Montana doesn't understand New England's game plan, he saw the writing on the wall for a Brady departure.

"It's not about appreciation. He wants control. I mean, he wants a lot of control. I don't know what Tampa Bay gave him, but at some point in time, you're just a player. You can try to get what you can and do what you want, but in the end, you're still not in the hierarchy when it comes to hiring people, firing people and all that," he said. "I don't know exactly what he's looking for, but my understanding was that he's just looking for more control of the offense. But I don't know. I haven't had a long conversation with him; I talked to him a little bit at the Super Bowl, but not enough time to really get in-depth."

Montana's comments are much different than those of Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who earlier this week said Brady left the Patriots because of his ego. Montana disagrees, basing his opinion on experience.

After having been shown the door by the 49ers, Montana knows what a late-career move can do for a player.

"It actually brings a new excitement to you, to a certain degree," said Montana, who went 17-8 in his two seasons in Kansas City, leading the Chiefs to an AFC Championship his first year there. "Because it's not going to be the same-ol', same-ol' going into the same locker room that you've been going into for so many years, seeing the same people over and over.

"He doesn't need a fresh start, but it gives you a great feeling inside, looking forward to trying to help the team move forward," he added. "And everybody believes in him, looking forward to watching him play."

Coming from his boyhood idol, those comments must make Brady even more pleased with his offseason move.

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