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1985 Bears Coverage: Rozelle lays down the law

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.

Rozelle lays down the law

Brian Hewitt

Originally published Feb. 1, 1986

Bear quarterback Jim McMahon was a pain in the neck to the NFL last Sunday.

The neck is where McMahon wore his Adidas headband during the Bears’ 46-10 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

“That will not be tolerated,” said NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle moments after a brief conversation with McMahon before yesterday’s NFC practice session at Aloha Stadium.

Rozelle praised McMahon for the “well-thought-out and well-meaning” use of the headbands he wore on his head during the game. They included the mention of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, POWs and MIAs.

Rozelle said McMahon told him he planned to wear headbands promoting other public service organizations in tomorrow’s Pro Bowl.

But in keeping with league policy, Rozelle indicated he will consider fining the Bears for McMahon’s Adidas display.

Rozelle already has fined the Bears $5,000 for McMahon’s headband usage earlier in the year. The Bears reportedly passed the fine on to McMahon who, in turn, passed it on to Adidas.

If McMahon continues to defy the league despite fines, one NFL official said the league could send McMahon to the sidelines during a game until his appearance conforms to the rules.

Rozelle described McMahon as “a very unique person.” But he expressed concern over McMahon’s image with the media: “In New Orleans, I was concerned with him being able to walk this tightrope of being a colorful personality and maybe something else that’d be getting below the rope.

“Some members of the print media have taken exception to some of his actions – which, of course, I don’t like because he’s one of the things we’re trying to sell as part of the NFL.”

During the NFC championship game against the Rams, McMahon wore a headband with “Rozelle” written across it. When Rozelle approached Bear running back Walter Payton before yesterday’s practice session, Payton quickly reversed the “Roos” lettering on one side of his headband, revealing “Rozelle” on the other side.

Payton has a commercial endorsement agreement with Roos similar to McMahon’s agreement with Adidas. Both Adidas and Roos manufacture sporting goods.

In a lighter vein, Rozelle did admit he has enjoyed the exposure. “Jim and Walter Payton and I discussed this,” Rozelle said, tongue-in-cheek. “We think we should find an attorney. They are selling my headband at $4.95 all over New Orleans and Chicago and I’d like to have a percentage of it. It’s a ripoff.”