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Jim McMahon on Cutler, lockout, brain injuries and girls at BYU

Jim McMahon

Former BYU quarterback Jim McMahon carries a BYU flag into the stadium before a game against University of Washington’s at an NCAA college football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010. BYU Won the game over Washington 23-17. (AP Photo/George Frey)


Former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon was brash and outspoken in his playing days. At the age of 51, that hasn’t changed.

McMahon weighed in on a wealth of subjects in an ESPN Radio interview today, talking about subjects ranging from the NFL lockout to suffering brain damage on the football field to how he got away with breaking the honor code during his time at Brigham Young University.

And McMahon took his former team to task for the way they handled the injury suffered by Bears quarterback Jay Cutler during the NFC Championship Game. When McMahon was with the Bears he didn’t often see eye-to-eye with the Bears’ management, and all these years later McMahon says the Bears’ management still doesn’t do enough to defend the players. McMahon believes that the Bears should have released an immediate statement saying the doctors wouldn’t let Cutler back into the game, and that if they had, Cutler wouldn’t have been criticized around the league for sitting out.

“I think they just handled it poorly,” McMahon said. “Somebody should have come out and said, hey, he hurt his knee. But nobody said anything. . . . I think if they handled it better, people would have realized what was going on.”

McMahon has spoken recently about how he thinks he suffered brain damage during his playing career, and that he attributes memory loss today to those injuries. But he also thinks the NFL has gone way too far in protecting quarterbacks.

“I think it’s a joke,” McMahon said. “I think it takes away from what the defensive guys have been taught their whole life. It’s a violent game and guys are going to get hurt sometimes. Some of the calls that some quarterbacks get I think are ridiculous. Other guys get pounded and don’t get a flag. As long as they’re consistent I think everybody would be happy, but they’re not consistent with it.”

Overall, however, McMahon said he’s doing OK, despite the problems with memory loss.

“There are times when I walk into a room and I’m like, ‘Why did I just come in here?’ and I have to go back and start again,” McMahon said. “It gets a little frustrating but it’s not like I’m retarded.”

McMahon was in the NFL during the 1982 and 1987 players’ strikes, and he doesn’t think highly of either side in the current labor dispute.

“It’s got to get settled,” McMahon said. “There’s too much money to get lost by both sides. It’s ridiculous and the fans are the ones who are going to suffer in this.”

McMahon had an interesting answer when asked about BYU basketball player Brandon Davies, who was suspended from the team this season, reportedly for violating the school’s honor code by having premarital sex. McMahon said he had a simple method for maintaining his football eligibility when he played at BYU: “You had to find girls who kept their mouths shut.”