One thing in common between the current Bears quarterback and the one that led them to their only Super Bowl thirty years ago is they're not crazy about talking with the media. And while that's evident with Jay Cutler, he still agrees to regular, if not very revealing, twice-a-week access to reporters. Even if it's guarded and processed and answered the way he wants to respond with an occasional air of superiority, he's still available.
During his seven seasons in Chicago, the NFL-mandated requirements for quarterbacks weren't in place. With the exception of postgame access, he was a much tougher quarterback to chase down. And when the mainstream media with whom he hadn't established a relationship would find him, it was very difficult to get him to stop and talk. It was part of a love-hate relationship with reporters here all the way up until his trade to San Diego before the 1989 season.
Friday on Comcast SportsNet's newest edition of "Inside Look, presented by Cadillac," Jim McMahon opened up with thoughts and memories he's rarely shared publicly about his playing days here, along with the challenges he's facing in his post-football career.
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McMahon agreed to sit down with CSN's producer extraordinaire Willie Parker for a two-part interview while in town for events last August and December, and the 30-minute compilation also includes a wide variety of other topics. He discussed a "weight" lifted off his shoulders over the past year by finally getting his college degree at BYU, with a helping hand from his former coach with the Cougars, LaVell Edwards. He goes in-depth about his Week 3 Thursday Night Miracle off the bench in Minnesota during that 1985 season, and how he and Mike Ditka were still screaming at each other on the sidelines, even though he'd just thrown for a touchdown on his first pass. He detailed the treatment for and the injury that almost kept him from Super Bowl XX. And takes us back to the game of "Cowboys and Indians" he was playing at age six, which eventually led to his eye injury that causes him to wear sunglasses virtually all the time.
There's also his introductory press conference in Chicago after being drafted in 1982, overshadowed by the controversy created when he emerged from a limousine with an open beer in his hand. It would foreshadow the relationship that would unfold for several years between him, the franchise, and this city.
"It wasn't like I was 18. I think I was almost 23. I'd just taken a three-hour flight from Utah, a 45-minute limo ride," McMahon recalls. "The only thing they had to drink was beer. They had some water too. But I wasn't ready for water. They weren't my first, and they certainly won't be my last."
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More on his relationship as Ditka's quarterback:
"It was fine if he'd just leave me alone. I told him,`Look, I'm trying to win games.' Because he'd be sending in plays and I'm like, `You've gotta be kiddin' me.' I would've loved to play with Mike. He was a great player. And had he ever been in my huddle, he would've understood me."
Finally, McMahon opens up about the physical challenges he's faced in recent years regarding memory loss, being a part of ex-players' lawsuit against the NFL and coming across recent treatments that've helped him cope better with symptoms.
Encore airings of "Inside Look: Jim McMahon" will air Sunday, July 19th (noon), Monday, July 20th (1:30 p.m.), Saturday, July 25th (5 p.m.), Sunday, July 26th (4 p.m.), Monday, July 27th (10:30 p.m.), Tuesday, August 11th (1 p.m.), Thursday, August 13th (7 p.m.), Sunday, August 16th (4:30 p.m.), & Friday, August 21st (7 p.m.). Schedule subject to change.
Watch the complete episode of "Inside Look: Jim McMahon" below: