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1985 Bears Coverage: McMahon jabs Bears for denying him acupuncture

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 jabs Bears for denying him acupuncture

Ron Rapoport

Originally published Jan. 21, 1986

The Bears flew here last night and did something virtually without precedent in the annals of Super Bowl Week.

They made news.

Jim McMahon had no sooner stepped off the team charter and settled himself behind a new pair of indoor sunglasses for what was supposed to be an informal welcoming press conference than he suddenly had his listeners’ rapt attention.

The Bear quarterback said he had taken acupuncture treatments for his aching back and backside and the Bears didn’t want him to take them any more.

“They wouldn’t let him on the plane,” McMahon said of Hiroshi Shiriashi, the trainer for the Japanese national track team who administered acupuncture treatments up and down McMahon’s legs yesterday. “He showed up at the airport and they wouldn’t let him on.”

Thus did the Bears find themselves in the middle of an intra-family squabble before they had even unpacked their bags to get

ready for Sunday’s Super Bowl.

McMahon had taken the acupuncture treatment without their consent and they didn’t want him to have any more, said public relations director Ken Valdiserri, relaying a hurried statement from team president Michael McCaskey in response to a blizzard of questions.

“Upper management felt he didn’t belong on the trip,” Valdiserri said of Shiriashi. “Fred Caito the Bears’ trainer will treat him the rest of the week. He knows what Jim’s pain threshold is and he knows the extent of the injury.

“Freddy’s the guy who should be treating the players and that’s how Michael McCaskey feels about it. They don’t feel going into Super Bowl Week is the time to be experimenting with acupuncture.”

Asked for Bear coach Mike Ditka’s reaction, Valdiserri said, “I’m sure Mike feels that is best handled by Fred Caito and that this is just another distraction. This is not the time for it.”

What if McMahon took acupuncture treatments on his own? Valdiserri was asked.

“If he does it without the knowledge of the club, we can’t stop him,” he said. “But we don’t want him to do it.”

“If it works, who cares if they approve or disapprove?” said McMahon, who learned about Shiriashi from teammate Willie Gault. “I don’t really care if they approve or not. If it’s going to help me play Sunday, I’m going to do it.”

McMahon said Shiriashi wants to give him treatments twice a day for the next three days and said he had had acupunture treatments for injuries to his neck and shoulder during his college playing days at Brigham Young.

“I used to have it done almost every day,” he said. “It seemed to relieve the pain some.”

McMahon, who has had a history of injuries during his four seasons with the Bears, sustained his latest one in the 24-0 victory over Los Angeles Jan. 12 that put the team in the Super Bowl.

After a run he slid into the turf at Soldier Field to avoid being tackled and was piled on by Ram defensive end Doug Reed. McMahon was furious and said the NFL should spend more time worrying about enforcing the rules against quarterbacks receiving late hits and less time worrying about what was written on their headbands.

Asked if had heard any further about having written the word Rozelle on his headband last week in response to a fine for wearing one with a sporting goods’ company’s name, McMahon said he had.

“Rozelle wrote me a nice letter and said he enjoyed it and got a good laugh,” McMahon said.

Asked if he had been fined again, McMahon said, “Not that I know of.”

McMahon seemed very sore after the Rams’ game and didn’t practice at all last week when the Bears worked out at Champaign. Yesterday, he said he didn’t expect to practice much this week either.

“What exactly is the matter?” a Los Angeles television reporter asked McMahon.

“I’ve got a sore ass,” he answered.

“Me, too,” the reporter winced. “Could you say it another way?”

So just as he has done so many times in the past, McMahon once again showed he can produce more news when he doesn’t play football than many others can when they do.

For instance, he was seriously asked yesterday if he was planning on making a movie. And his agent, Stephen Zucker, reported that his long-held ambition to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone is about to become a reality.

After his startling disclosures yesterday, McMahon went off to tape a scene with Bob Hope that will appear on television this weekend.

Most football players would be more than happy to do this, no questions asked. But McMahon exacted a price from the comedian. I’ll be on your show, he said, if you let me play in your golf tournament. Hope quickly agreed.

As the Bears approach the Super Bowl, they have now come up with a compelling subplot.

Will Hiroshi Shiriashi buy a plane ticket to New Orleans? Will McMahon defy his team’s medical advice? Will he play the game on pins and needles?

And to think it’s only Tuesday.