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1985 Bears Coverage: Injury may keep McMahon out of lineup vs. Cowboys

Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Injury may keep McMahon out of lineup vs. Cowboys

Herb Gould

Originally published Nov. 12, 1985

Mike Ditka will tell you one of the many things he learned in 13 years as a player and coach under Tom Landry was patience.

That serenity showed yesterday as Ditka tried to placate reporters asking about Jim McMahon, whose shoulder injury makes the Bear quarterback a question mark as Ditka’s Bears prepare to put their 10-0 record on the line Sunday in Dallas against Landry’s 7-3 Cowboys.

Downplaying the importance of this match against his old mentor, Ditka said, “This is not a more important game than any other. You guys don’t understand me.”

Last year Dallas defeated the Bears 23-14 here. But that game was different, Ditka admitted.

“Last year, I got uptight,” Ditka said. “I choked. I really wanted to win that one.”

Pressure on Dallas

This time around, he wants to win, but doesn’t need to win. If a 10-0 record doesn’t impress Landry, sorry. The pressure just might be on the Cowboys, since Dallas is tied for the NFC East lead with the New York Giants.

Regarding McMahon’s availability, Ditka said, “Nobody has a crystal ball, especially me. I think he’ll be ready to play, but there’s no use guessing about it.”

Ditka said he would like McMahon to try to throw tomorrow and continue to practice if the shoulder feels all right. If it’s sore Thursday, Ditka said he would hold McMahon out, then try again Friday.

Shoulder sprain

McMahon’s injury has been described at different times as a bruised, sprained and even separated shoulder.

Trainer Fred Caito said McMahon has an AC sprain, which refers to the acromio-clavicular joint of the shoulder. “I wouldn’t call it a separation,” Caito said. “With a separation, you can see a rise in the joint.”

Ultrasound and ice treatment are being administered, Caito said.

McMahon, who sat out Sunday’s 24-3 victory over Detroit, said he was hurt Oct. 13 in San Francisco and reinjured nine days ago in Green Bay.

Asked if he would be ready Sunday, McMahon said “it’s too early” to tell.

If McMahon can’t play, the Bears will carry on as they did when Steve Fuller quarterbacked Sunday, middle linebacker Mike Singletary said.

“It doesn’t really matter who’s on the offensive side,”

Singletary said, discounting the chance of the defense feeling more pressure. “We know we have to do our job. I don’t think we fall into that trap of added pressure.”

Nor does the offense, said guard Tom Thayer. With Fuller at quarterback, “It’s almost uplifting for the offensive line because we know we’re challenged more to perform better to give Steve more time,” Thayer said.

“If you worry about who’s going to play, it really detracts from your preparation. If you take your concentration away from who you’re going to block and the type of plays you’re going to run, it’s really going to be rough for you on Sunday.”

If Ditka was treating this Sunday as just another, it might be because he’d rather beat the Cowboys when it counts – in the playoffs.

Not that he doesn’t want to win this week, though.

When the Bears met yesterday, Ditka “didn’t really say anything different,” Singletary said. “But he didn’t have to. The look in his face said it all. We’ve come a long way. We’ve just got to do what we’re capable of doing.”

If Ditka had a choice between the Bears doing it against Dallas Sunday or in January, he’d rather win later than sooner. There’s plenty of time to get impatient.