The not-so-punky QB
John Rehor, Packers contributor
Jim McMahon. Photo: Image by TODAY'S TMJ4
1985 was a rough year for Packers fans.
While the Packers were mired in mediocrity, going through yet another 8-8 season, their rivals 200 miles to the south were steamrolling their way through the league, en route to a 15-1 season and a Super Bowl title.
It was painful to watch the Packers most hated rivals demolish everything in their way (including George Cumby, when William “The Refrigerator” Perry literally ran over him) while Packers fans had to settle for average yet again.
At the center of their team (and ego) was QB Jim McMahon. The Punky QB. Spiky hair, headbands, sunglasses complete with a flair to say whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.
He was Hollywood personified. And he loved every second of it.
McMahon’s career began a downward spiral shortly after the Bears celebrated their Super Bowl victory. Starting with the infamous Charles Martin bodyslam in 1986, McMahon became injury prone, a shell of the player he was that helped lead the Bears back to prominence in the early and mid 1980’s.
By 1988, his time in Chicago was over. Except for 1991 and 1993, his time as a starting quarterback was done as well.
When the Packers signed McMahon to serve as Brett Favre’s backup in 1995, it was shocking to say the least. Never mind that he was a former Bear-that was the least of concern for Packers fans. What was concerning was a fragile player was going to serve as a backup for the NFL MVP.
On the other hand, it was amusing to listen to friends who were die hard Bears fans complain that McMahon had become a traitor. Defecting to Green Bay from Chicago was a criminal offense during those times, especially for the Punky QB known as McMahon. It was wonderful to listen to.
What was not so wonderful was the prospect of having McMahon actually play in a game. That thought scared the (expletive deleted) out of every Packers fan on the planet.
Fortunately, except for a few plays and several kneeldowns, McMahon was never called into action during the Super Bowl season of 1996. Favre stayed on the field as he almost always did, while McMahon was on the sidelines, doing what he did best at that point of his career - holding a clipboard.
Throughout his time in Green Bay, McMahon was quiet and reserved. No longer the "punky QB," he adapted to his role as the backup QB with dignity and grace, or at least as much as he could.
Jim McMahon retired following the 1996 season, adding another Super Bowl ring to his collection, this time as a member of the Packers.
The not-so-punky QB exited the NFL fairly quietly following a 15 year career. His time in Green Bay has been mostly forgotten, most NFL aficionados remembering his time with Chicago.
Still, many Packers fans will never forget how he went from hated rival to friendly ally in the span of a decade.
Funny how the NFL works sometimes.