GRIZ GRIT: Time to Focus on Football

By Beacon Staff

Grizzly junior quarterback Nate Montana has yet to throw pass, take a snap, or suit up except in a practice scenario, but already he has garnered at least as much print and notoriety as any University of Montana transfer in the history of the football program.

And much of the publicity occurred even before he was charged with a DUI after being stopped for speeding – 14 over in the 25 mph zone – in Missoula at 3 a.m. on a weekday morning.

Now that the charge has been adjudicated, which occurred following his guilty plea to reckless driving just 20 days after the ticket was issued, and the plea bargain and sentence has come to the light more than two weeks after the fact, his name will again become the topic of discussion for myriad reasons outside of football.

In reading some of the online comments about his situation, I am always struck by the ease with which people respond when they either don’t read or even care about the entire story and disregard how the legal system is designed.

A former four-term senator the late Daniel Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.”

Montana was ticketed by a Missoula County deputy for misdemeanors, including speeding and suspicion of DUI.

After examination by the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, it was determined there was not sufficient evidence to substantiate the DUI charge, which then was reduced to reckless driving. As part of the plea agreement to drop the speeding charge, he pleaded guilty.

He no doubt benefited from excellent counsel. And you can argue that perhaps most of us couldn’t afford it.

But I can guarantee you that nobody worked behind closed doors to convince the County Attorney’s Office that there was not sufficient evidence for a DUI conviction. And knowing everyone involved after more than two decades of covering the Missoula justice system, I can tell you the decision was made based on facts.

Agree with it or not, this is what we have and although it’s certainly not perfect, it’s the best system in the world.

I’m sure Nate Montana – the son of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana – is accustomed to such scrutiny and publicity. It goes with the territory.

We all know there are plenty of celebrities seen around Montana and, for the most part, it seems they’re left alone in public settings.

I hope Joe Montana and his family eventually will be treated the same way. He recently opted out of a fundraising celebrity golf tournament because he didn’t want to have the focus on him instead of the cause.

And I look forward to spirited competition among a quartet of quarterbacks, all with different skill sets, to grab the headlines with successful X’s and O’s instead of other acronyms.

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