1985 Bears Coverage: McMahon injury worse?

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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 injury worse?

Joel Bierig

Originally published Nov. 26, 1985

Bear coach Mike Ditka expressed new concern yesterday that quarterback Jim McMahon’s shoulder condition might be worse than the most recent diagnosis of tendinitis.

“If he goes another week without throwing and it was my career, I’d be concerned they diagnosed it incorrectly,” Ditka said of McMahon, who has missed the last three games.

“If it goes three weeks and they doctors say it’s normal, that’s not what they told us.”

The question of whether McMahon can return this season is replacing concern about his availability for Monday night’s game at Miami.

There are growing indications the Bears – division champs with four regular-season games left – won’t consider bringing him back for at least two games.

Backup quarterback Steve Fuller said he is “100 percent sure” McMahon will return this season “because he’s changed the direction of his rehabilitation to suit being in the playoffs.”

Though he is far from pleased about it, McMahon admitted, “There’s no need for me to play any more until the playoffs. I like playing on Monday night, but the playoffs are better than Miami.”

McMahon was evasive in discussing his condition and status. He said only that he hopes to return this season. “This year, sometime – I don’t know when,” said the fourth-year quarterback, who has yet to play a complete NFL season.

McMahon missed the last six games and both playoff games last year with a lacerated kidney. Although he said he was told shortly after the injury he would need three months to recover, the Bears led people to believe for several weeks he would return for the playoffs.

Asked yesterday if he was frustrated, McMahon said, “Yeah, but you get used to it. It’s happened every bleep in’ year I’ve been here. I play half a year. I guess if I could play half a year and still win the Super Bowl, I’d be happy. I’d still get a check like everybody else.”

In the last three games, the Bears have outscored the enemy 104-3 without McMahon. “I’m doing all right,” he said. “We’re 12-0, and I’m still part of the team – I think.”

No throws this week

Told McMahon didn’t anticipate throwing this week, Ditka said, “That’s the feeling I have. If he said that, he’s the only one who can control it, so I don’t know.”

To be ready for the playoffs, McMahon said he would need “a game. I’d like to play some in Detroit the finale Dec. 22. I’m used to the situations there.”

“It wouldn’t hurt for him to maybe play the last couple of regular-season games – at least start practicing regularly by then,” Fuller said. “You need to get accustomed to seeing guys flying by your face or knocking you on your butt.

“But if he was to be hurt, God forbid, in a game before the Super Bowl and we still wind up winning the game, that wouldn’t be a very good thing for us.”

McMahon, who threw some 10-yard passes in warmups Sunday, said he wanted to play in the 36-0 rout of Atlanta. Yet he admitted, “It would have been foolish. That was the first time I threw the ball in three weeks. I asked him Ditka to put me in just to give me a series. I could go in there and hand the ball off. But he wouldn’t do that.”

Why risk playing sooner than necessary?

“Contract incentives,” McMahon said, smiling. “I’ve missed most of them. I’d like to make a couple and make up for some of my fines.

“I think you need 250 attempts to qualify for the NFL passing title. If that’s the case, I want to throw 20 more balls.

“General manager Jerry Vainisi told me as long as I come in sixth, he doesn’t care what I do. If I come in in the top five, he’s got to pay some money.”

`Felt good’

Asked what throwing schedule he is on this week, McMahon said, “None.”

Does that mean he won’t throw all week?

“Yup,” he replied, shuffling through a stock room’s worth of shoes in his locker.

He said the shoulder “felt good” during his Sunday warmup, but “you can’t tell anything just lobbin’ the ball. It doesn’t hurt any today. Maybe it’s getting better.”

Asked what made him think he wouldn’t be able to throw, he replied, “I’ve got a cold.”

“I don’t want to throw in this cold,” he added. “I’ll wait until we go to Miami. I’ll throw Sunday night in my hotel room.”

On his prospects of playing Monday, McMahon said, “If I feel good, I’ll play. But I don’t know how good I’m going to feel if I don’t do bleep all week.”

Still, McMahon said, “I wish I could get frustrated in my street clothes rather than in my damn uniform on Sunday. You feel like an ass when you dress and don’t play. If they’re going to play me, have me dress. If not, let me bleepin’ stay warm.”

Don’t count on it.

“He was really into the game yesterday on the sidelines,” Ditka said. “I like to see him like that with a uniform on. As a matter of fact, he made some very good suggestions.”

Kevin Lamb also contributed to this article.

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