Ex-QB Jim McMahon torches Bears: ‘Where quarterbacks go to die’
McMahon shredded the organization he helped win a championship. And, even worse, he preferred playing for the Packers.
There’s nothing particularly profound in blasting the Bears for their decades of quarterback failures. People do that all the time. But it’s blistering when it comes from one of the franchise’s all-time heroes in Jim McMahon.
McMahon scorched his old team this week by calling Chicago the place “where quarterbacks go to die.”
That sounds harsh, but, actually, he didn’t go far enough. For most quarterbacks who land with the Bears, their careers never actually sprout in the first place.
The Bears’ most recent big splash at the position was Mitch Trubisky, who stumbled through four seasons after they traded up to pick him No. 2 overall before moving on to be the Bills’ backup. It was a similar crash for 2003 first-round pick Rex Grossman (36 games) and 1999 first-rounder Cade McNown (25).
Nick Foles wilted after the Bears traded for him last year, but his career wasn’t exactly blossoming before that. Same for Mike Glennon, Jason Campbell and many others among the 34 players who have started at quarterback since McMahon’s last game in 1988. No. 35 figures to be newcomer Andy Dalton, who at 33 has already fizzled with his original team and spent last season as the backup in Dallas.
Jay Cutler might be the only one whose career actually spiraled to its end in Chicago.
McMahon went 49-17 (including playoffs) as the Bears’ starter from 1982 through ’88, and no quarterback since has come close to that level of success.
“Chicago has always been known for their defense — their defense and their running game — and that’s probably all they’re ever gonna be known for,” McMahon said on the FatMike Chicago Sports Show. “I think it’s where quarterbacks go to die.
“They get a lot of blame — some of it they deserve.”
He also ripped general manager Ryan Pace’s decision to trade up and pick Trubisky in 2017 as “just a typical Bears draft move,” arguing — completely inaccurately — that they could have waited and gotten him in the second or third round instead.
“Wasn’t [Patrick] Mahomes there? [Deshaun] Watson?” McMahon said. “There were other guys that they could’ve gotten. But that’s the Bears.”
Again, he’s not saying anything new, but it stings the Bears to hear it from their only Super Bowl-winning quarterback. This one hits harder than Muhsin Muhammad calling Chicago “where receivers go to die” in 2008.
And, as if McMahon’s comments weren’t cutting enough, he held up the Packers as a counterexample.
“It was the best organization that I played for,” said McMahon, who was with Green Bay in 1995 and ’96. “From top to bottom, just great people.”
It has been increasingly difficult to gauge McMahon’s relationship with the franchise since he clashed with former chairman Michael McCaskey and coach Mike Ditka and was traded to the Chargers. He has often been publicly critical.
That said, he wore his Bears jersey when president Bill Clinton hosted the Packers’ 1996 championship team at the White House, joined the ’85 Bears when Barack Obama invited them and attended the Bears’ 2019 opener in celebration of their 100th season.
McMahon, 61, has struggled health-wise throughout retirement in large part because of concussions he suffered as a player. He said in 2012 that he had early-stage dementia. While that continues to be a challenge, he has improved physically.
“My body feels a hell of a lot better,” McMahon said. “My head still bothers me . . . but the rest of my body actually feels pretty damn good for the 18 or 19 surgeries I’ve had.”