1985 Bears Coverage: McMahon may face Cowboys

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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.

McMahon may face Cowboys

Brian Hewitt

Originally published Nov. 14, 1985

Bear quarterback Jim McMahon threw with his right arm for the first time all week yesterday. But he wouldn’t say how hard he threw. Nor would coach Mike Ditka.

Earlier in the day the Bears listed him as “questionable” on their injury report. But before practice McMahon said he expected to play against the Cowboys Sunday in Dallas.

“As of right now,” McMahon said during a lunchtime break, “I’m gonna play. The shoulder is getting better.”

“We’ll know more tomorrow,” Ditka cautioned after practice. Ditka said McMahon did not participate in seven-on-seven passing drills.

After practice McMahon dodged reporters before repairing to the racquetball court where he took on kicker Kevin Butler. For the record, McMahon played left-handed.

McMahon’s shoulder was too sore to test on the field last week against Detroit. So backup Steve Fuller led the Bears to a 24-3 victory. Doctors later described McMahon’s injury as a bruised acrimioclavicular joint. The injury reportedly occurred last month.

Oddly enough, McMahon’s absence against the Lions caused him to regain first place in the NFC quarterback ratings ahead of San Francisco’s Joe Montana. McMahon remained at 89.7. Montana dropped to 87.9.

None of which particularly interested McMahon during the noon hour. Before practice he groused at center Jay Hilgenberg for eating his sandwich. “The guy steals my lunch every day,” McMahon said.

Then somebody asked him who was going to win Saturday’s college football game between unbeaten Air Force and Brigham Young, McMahon’s alma mater. “I could care less,” he said charmingly.

Then it was a time for the daily mail perusal. Earlier this year McMahon revealed he has been receiving a steady stream of hate mail.

People have written to complain about everything from his sunglasses and hairstyle to the smokeless tobacco he pinches between his cheek and gum.

Yesterday he got an anonymous note that said, “I can’t believe they let your bleeping blockhead into BYU.”

“They won’t tell you that in person unless they’re behind a fence,” said McMahon. “It’s chicken-bleep. But it doesn’t bother me.”

Meanwhile in Dallas, Cowboy coach Tom Landry insisted McMahon’s status didn’t concern him. “McMahon’s been unsettled with injury through a lot of the season and the Bears are still 10-0,” he said. “So obviously they’ve been able to compensate for it and still win football games. And that’s really the bottom line.”

When the Bears and the Cowboys faced each other in the pre-season the Cowboys won 15-13 in a game dominated by brawls. “I really don’t expect that again,” said Landry. “It was kind of unusual for us in the summer. But we had scrimmaged against the Raiders two or three times. I guess we got tough.”

“This one will be a gentlemanly encounter,” said Ditka.

Ditka assisted Landry in Dallas for nine years. And the two still talk occasionally during the season. But Landry said they won’t talk this week. “I’m mad at Mike this week,” he said with a chuckle.

“Tom never gets mad,” Ditka replied. “I never get mad.”

Apparently Bear wide receiver Dennis McKinnon is mad at somebody. “I’m not talking to the media,” he said when asked if he expected to play against the Cowboys. “I’m just one of the 44 guys on this team that the media forgot.”

McKinnon, who has been nursing a sore knee all season, wouldn’t elaborate on whether the one player gaining all the attention was William Perry, Walter Payton or McMahon. Ditka said McKinnon’s knee is the best it has been in weeks.

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