Mentoring comes in an untold number of forms. So it was on Saturday, when two of the most charismatic Bears quarterbacks of the past four decades came together Saturday for a “Legacy Quarterbacks” panel session as part of the “Bears 100 Celebration” at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.
Jim McMahon, legendary quarterback of the 1985 Super Bowl XX champions, began his get-together with Mitchell Trubisky, moderated by Bears announcers Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer, by surprising the younger quarterback with a pair of sunglasses and a headband that Trubisky immediately donned for the entire hour-long panel.
“Step one,” said Trubisky, nicknamed “Pretty Boy Assassin” his rookie season by his defensive teammates.
“Now you’re ready to go,” said McMahon, whose “Punky QB” ID from the “Super Bowl Shuffle” has endured.
The two first-round picks (McMahon was No. 5 overall in 1982, Trubisky No. 2 overall in 2017) arrived with doubters. McMahon recalled being judged as too small, lacking good vision (he suffered an eye injury as a child, hence the sunglasses) and someone telling him, “Maybe you should go to Canada.”
Trubisky was targeted and traded up for by Bears general manager Ryan Pace after just one season/13 starts at North Carolina.
But what surfaced early in both careers was a flair for the job, that job being to energize and lead their teams. Both brought a touch of panache’ to their early dealings with team management. McMahon emerged from first ride to Halas Hall with a beer in progress. When Trubisky was tasked with making arrangements for a secret dinner in Chapel Hill with Bears top brass during their evaluation of him at North Carolina, he made the reservations of “James McMahon.”
“I think they liked that,” Trubisky said, smiling.
The two established early on that they played with a touch of abandon with their own bodies. Among highlights shown during the panel were of Trubisky scrambling for a touchdown run and coaches have expressed a desire that he learn to avoid taking so many hits. McMahon’s career was dotted/shortened by injuries and he started an average of fewer than nine games in his seven Bears seasons.
“I played the only way I knew how,” McMahon said, adding, “I was playing hurt when I got here.”
Among the photos flashed during the discussion was one of Trubisky studying the Lombardi Trophy that McMahon’s 1985 Bears won. Trubisky was clear about that trophy and his own team: “It’s within reach.”
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