CHICAGO (CBS) — It should have been the crowning career moment for former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon when he helped his team win the Super Bowl. Instead, McMahon, in a sit-down interview with CBS 2’s Dave Savini, says the experience was a nightmare.
“Super Bowl week wasn’t a good time for me,” said McMahon. “I was getting death threats. We had bomb threats at the hotel.”
A false news report saying McMahon made off-color comments about the women and men of New Orleans wreaked havoc as the team was getting ready for the big game.
Back then, in January 1986, McMahon said, “It’s very upsetting and that’s why I get (bleep) at the press sometimes.”
The New Orleans reporter responsible for the false story was suspended but the damage was done.
“You know, guys wouldn’t stand by me at practice. They thought for sure I was going to get shot at practice,” said McMahon. “I don’t remember much of the game. I just wanted to play, and get back in that locker room, so I couldn’t get shot.”
The Super Bowl aside, McMahon says he loved playing football, but it was not easy. He says practices were brutal, with full pads and full contact.
“Every practice was almost like a game,” said McMahon. “We were beating each other up every Wednesday thru Friday. It was definitely wearing us down. I mean, people ask me why did we never win more than one Super Bowl. I think cause we were tired.”
The team did not just beat each other up, they were known for their ferocity on the field including targeting other teams’ quarterbacks.
“That’s every team’s goal, is to get rid of the quarterback,” said McMahon. “I mean that’s never going to change. Your odds of winning go way up if that guys not playing.”
When his teammates were not knocking out the opponents, McMahon was getting clobbered himself, which left his body permanently sore.
McMahon is now living a quieter life, spending time cooking with his girlfriend and doing puzzles to exercise his brain since being diagnosed with early-onset dementia.
He also is studying to finish his college degree and is enjoying his beautiful home at the base of an Arizona mountain.
He says, had he known back then about the medical problems he’d face because of football, he would have still played the game, but would have made some changes.
“I’d probably would have sat out a few more games,” said McMahon.