McMahon's Super Bowl week was one for the ages


Editor's note: Each week during the season, Graham Bensinger talks with a high-profile NFL figure for ESPN.com's Weekly Conversation. Recently he sat down with former Bears QB Jim McMahon, the quarterback of the famed Super Bowl XX champion Chicago Bears, who on Jan. 26, 1986 routed the New England Patriots 46-10 in the Louisiana Superdome.

Graham Bensinger: What do you most recall from the Super Bowl XX Bears team?

Jim McMahon: Well, we won! Not only were we a great football team, we had a bunch of great guys. There were a lot of characters and good people.

Bensinger: What made the team so dominant?

McMahon: Our players, for one. We had some of the best players in the league. We won our division five straight years and had home field advantage, I think, four of those five years in the playoffs. We just screwed up in the playoffs those other years. We had a good football team and good personnel. Defensively, it was a new defense so people had a tough time figuring it out. Then, you plug the players we had into that defense -- it was no fun to play them.

Bensinger: I'd like to name three people and get your thoughts on each. First is The Fridge, William Perry.

McMahon: Fridge is just a big happy boy! He was a hell of a player when he was about 315 lbs. He's always smiling. I just love being around him.

Bensinger: How about Walter Payton?

McMahon: Walter was just business. He was a classy guy. He never said a word in the huddle. He wasn't one of these guys that said, "Hey, give me the ball. Give me the ball!" He just went about his business and did whatever he could to help us win. It was a pleasure playing with him.

Bensinger: What impact did he have on your game?

McMahon: He made my game easier because everyone knew that we were going to run the ball. If they stacked the line, it was easy for me to get out of the play and throw the ball. It was always nice to know if you need tough yards you were going to get it with Walter.

Bensinger: How about Mike Ditka?

McMahon: Mike was a tough coach. He was good for us. He was good for X's and O's. I don't think he was an offensive coordinator, which he thought he was a lot of the time. For the most part, he got rid of guys that were hanging around collecting checks and he got guys in that wanted to play and work. That's what he got.

Bensinger: What did you think of him while you were playing?

McMahon: I had no problems with him. We had our run-ins on Sundays and stuff like that, but that's pretty normal with head coaches and QBs.

Bensinger: How much did he get on you over play calling?

McMahon: It depended. If it worked, sometimes he didn't. He would get upset at certain things. He thought I was doing stuff just to make him mad, but I was doing things to help us win. You know, I'm not going to beat my head into the wall when there's an eight-man front. Conversely, if they're dropping back in coverage, you run the ball. It's not that difficult to figure out.

Bensinger: Super Bowl Week: what you expected it to be versus the reality of what it was for you.

McMahon: I expected it to be nuts and it was nuts. I didn't expect that idiot reporter to go on TV saying that I said a bunch of derogatory things to the women and all this and that. That certainly wasn't part of the plan. It was basically what you'd expect from a Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Bensinger: The reporter said you called New Orleans women sluts and that the city's men were stupid. You were getting death threats following that?

McMahon: Oh, yeah. I got death threats Thursday through Sunday.

Bensinger: What were they saying?

McMahon: That I was going to die, I was going to get shot … All kinds of things. Playing the game, I just wanted to get the hell out of town! The game was secondary.

Bensinger: To what extent did the craze of the week overshadow the game?

McMahon: Yeah, I don't remember much of the game. Hell, I remember just leaving town alive. I was happy about that.

Bensinger: How did the contusion on your butt lead to mooning the helicopter?

McMahon: I got tired of them [the media] asking me questions about my ass so I finally showed it to them.

Bensinger: If you didn't get the acupuncture, would you have been able to play in the game?

McMahon: I couldn't even walk without that guy. Without him, I might not have been able to play at all. If I did, it would have been sparingly.

Bensinger: How much would have sliding feet first instead of frequently diving saved your body from some of the injuries?

McMahon: I got the contusion from sliding feet first so that's all bull. You're not supposed to get hit yet I got drilled right in the ass when I slid feet first. That's why I didn't like doing it then and I wouldn't do it now.

Bensinger: What did you think of the media following the week?

McMahon: I wasn't too impressed with them. I'd done everything that I was supposed to do up until Thursday. I did all the interviews. I was where I was supposed to be. Then, all of the sudden this idiot says this and I'm supposed to keep talking to the press? Why? They're going to make (stuff) up anyways.

Bensinger: What advice would you give to these Bears players on dealing with this week?

McMahon: Don't talk to anybody. (laughs) It ain't going to make any difference anyways. If they want to merit a story, they'll write one.

Bensinger: People have said the Bears should have a fighting chance if QB Rex Grossman just doesn't make any mistakes in the Super Bowl. As a QB, when you hear that, what goes through your head?

McMahon: Didn't hear that much so I don't know. It's tough to play the position with that attitude. You've got to be able to try and take chances and make plays here and there. The Bears have a good football team. You just don't turn the ball over and they have a good chance of winning the game.

Bensinger: How much do you follow football today?

McMahon: I don't.

Bensinger: Why not?

McMahon: I could care less. Why? Why should I? I'm retired. Why the hell should I care about it? I've been out 10 years. It's not my whole life. I've been doing a lot of other things since I got out of football.

Bensinger: Will you watch the Super Bowl?

McMahon: No.

Bensinger: What most interests you now?

McMahon: I've been doing a lot of stuff with our soldiers and the injured guys that are coming back. I actually went to Iraq over New Year's. I spent three days in Iraq. I was there for the hanging [of Saddam Hussein]. It was pretty cool to go hang out with the boys over there.

Bensinger: What was it like?

McMahon: It was awesome! I got to fly around in choppers everywhere. I hit 12 camps in three days. I got to see a lot of the troops. Our morale is good over there. They're kicking ass, they feel. Hopefully, that will get reported here someday.

Bensinger: Why do you think it's not?

McMahon: I don't know.

Bensinger: What are you doing with the troops?

McMahon: I'm trying to help raise money for the guys that are coming back injured because the government is not doing a hell of a lot for them. These guys don't make any money in the military. Some of them are missing limbs and having a tough time. I'm trying to help them out. (For more information, please go to The USO's web site.)

Graham Bensinger is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Visit his Web site at: TheGBShow.com. You can e-mail him at graham@thegbshow.com