1985 Bears Coverage: Offender dances around meaning of `get Payton’

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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.

Offender dances around meaning of `get Payton’

Brian Hewitt

Originally published Sept. 24, 1985

WASHINGTON — Redskin defensive end Dexter Manley tried to eat his words yesterday. But apparently he didn’t like the taste. So he spat some of them back out at the Bears.

Manley talked Sunday about Washington’s need to “knock Walter Payton out of the game” when the Red skins play the Bears Sunday at Soldier Field. But when he learned how the Bears had reacted, the NFC’s leading sacker said, “How about if I say I had diarrhea of the mouth? There is no way we’d ever put Walter Payton out of the game. But if it happens, it happens. It was probably stupidity on my part to make that statement. But I’m not going to apologize.”

The controversy arose after Sunday’s 19-6 Redskin loss to the Eagles when Manley was asked about playing the Bears.

His response:

“We’re going to have to knock Walter Payton out of the game. We’re gonna have to do that.”

Are you going to have to knock Bear quarterback Jim McMahon out of the game, too? he was asked.

“I think McMahon’s a little fragile,” Manley replied. “The guy can get hurt. But my main concern is Walter Payton. If we can get him, then we’re gonna be all right.”

And if the Redskins don’t?

“Then the Chicago Bears will kill us,” Manley said. “I really mean it. They’ll kill us.”

Manley said yesterday he didn’t remember making the remarks about Payton. But when furnished with a tape recording of his comments, Manley listened and changed his mind.

Admits gaffe

“Whoops,” he said at one point, covering his mouth as he listened to the tape.

“If I said it, I said it,” he admitted after listening to the entire interview.

Bear guard Mark Bortz responded by saying, “That doesn’t show me any class.”

“Things like that are said out of frustration,” Bear coach Mike Ditka said.

“No comment,” Payton said. “It’s ridiculous.”

After hearing the Bears’ reaction, Manley was asked if he wished he hadn’t made his original statements. “No,” he said. “I don’t wish I hadn’t said those things. This is a contact sport. Not racquetball or volleyball on some tennis court.

“I was excited when I said it and I’m still excited. But I don’t think we can knock Payton out of the game. Words have never tackled anybody. Wouldn’t that be something if Walter Payton knocked me out? I’d be the jackass then.”

Gibbs blase

Washington coach Joe Gibbs was decidedly less excited about the furor caused by Manley’s remarks. He had a copy of the Sun-Times containing the article on Manley on his desk before yesterday’s practice.

“I think what Dexter was trying to say is that Walter Payton’s the key to their running game,” said Gibbs, whose Redskins are off to an unexpectedly poor 1-2 start. “Dexter would have to be out of his mind to say anything about Chicago.

“I think the true meaning of what he said is that if we can’t stop Walter Payton, they’ll kill us. I would say everybody right now probably figures they’ve got a good chance of killing us anyhow.”

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