Charles Haley knows his quarterbacks; he compiled 100.5 sacks and played alongside three Hall of Fame gunslingers over his 13-year career.
The Hall of Fame defensive end also knows his way around the Cowboys and the 49ers, the two rival organizations with which he played throughout his time in professional football. So when Haley compares Cowboys standout sophomore Dak Prescott to San Francisco's all-time great quarterback, it's worth your time to heed his wisdom.
"You know what? Dak reminds me of Joe [Montana]," Haley told Newy Scruggs of DFW's NBC 5. "He's funny. He's charismatic. They had something to prove. They had a chip on their shoulder. That meant the more I'm around him, he has so much confidence...
"He came from nothing, like me. So guess what? What can you do? How can you hurt someone that came from nothing, that had to pull himself up from the bootstraps and walk out on the stage wearing that star on his head and go? What can you say? What can you do?"
While Haley is only drawing comparisons between Prescott's and Montana's on-and-off-field demeanor here, it's worth our time to look at the two quarterbacks' on-field resumes through one year in the league. (Because it's Friday in July, and why not?)
Drafted in the fourth round out of Mississippi State, Prescott was a college standout, but entered Cowboys camp third on the depth chart behind Tony Romo and Kellen Moore. Injuries to both thrust Prescott into the national spotlight, and the rookie didn't miss a beat. Prescott finished 2016 with a 67.8 completion percentage, 3,667 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns and just four interceptions en route to leading Dallas to a division title and a top seed in the NFC and winning Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Likewise, Montana was a stud at Notre Dame, winning the national title with the Fighting Irish in 1977, but fell to the third round in the 1979 draft before being drafted by the 49ers. Montana spent his freshman campaign in the Bay Area behind Steve DeBerg, seeing action in all 16 games, but never making a sizable impact on San Francisco's 2-14 squad. It wasn't until 1981 that Montana put a stranglehold on the starting position and the league. That season, in which Montana started all 16 games and threw for 3,565 yards, culminated in a Super Bowl run, during which Joe was the leader of two legendary finishes: The Catch and the John Candy drive.
Their paths might not be mirror images on the field at this point, but Haley sees a Joe Cool type of future for young Prescott, as long as he continues to build confidence and keep that mid-round chip on his shoulder.
"I tell him all the time, I say, 'Man, this is your show. This is your rodeo,'" Haley added. "I told him that after game [five] when he was saying it was Romo's show. I wanted to punch him in his chest. Hey, hold up. You've won four in a row. Then, you win five a row. Now walk out on the field before the game and say, 'Who's team is this?' If he didn't say, 'My team' real fast, I'll punch him again. 'My team.'
"He's got to realize he's got to control everybody. Whether Romo would have came back or not, it's about the confidence and believing that he was the man. That he was driving the bus. Then, that confidence will spill over and it did. When you listen to players talk they talk big about Dak, because he's a man of character and a man of strength and a man of conviction."