The dog days of the offseason are finally behind us now that training camp is underway, just in time for our countdown of the Top 100 Chicago Bears of all time to really heat up. As we get closer to the season opener, we get closer to naming the #1 Chicago Bear of all time.
We’re up to the #30 ranked Chicago Bears player of all time, the punky QB Jim McMahon. Perhaps no other player in Chicago Bears history is more revered for doing as little as he did than McMahon. Yes, he did lead the Beloved to a Super Bowl Championship. Yes, his swagger and attitude personified the ’85 Bears. He was chummy with his offensive line. He was a fiery leader on the field but thumbed his nose at the league office. He was in many ways, the anti-Cutler.
McMahon was drafted with the 5th overall pick in the 1982 NFL Draft out of BYU. It’s amazing to me that a character like McMahon ever played at BYU, but I digress. McMahon started 7 games as a rookie, putting up a 3-4 record with 9 TD’s and 7 picks. In his 3rd season in 1984, McMahon led the Bears to a division title and a 10-6 record, but only threw 8 TD’s in the nine games he played.
The next season of course, was the magical Super Bowl season. McMahon only started 11 games, but went 11-0 in his starts, throwing 15 TD’s and 11 INT’s. His QB Rating in the Super Bowl season was a pedestrian 82.6. The Bears of course, hoisted the Lombardi Trophy and all’s well that ends well.
But the next season, the Bears went 14-2 and another Super Bowl was in their sights. But with an injured McMahon, Doug Flutie and the Bears dropped their playoff game to the Washington Redskins. McMahon only appeared in 6 games in ’86. That was the story of his career. His style of play led to injuries and missed games, except when Charles Martin was body-slamming him of course.
McMahon played a couple more seasons with the Bears and while they continued to dominate the NFC Central, they also consistently stumbled. Yes, the Bears of the mid to late 80’s were dominant behind McMahon, who went on a 22-0 regular season win streak between 1985 and 1987, but the Bears only won one Super Bowl under his direction.
McMahon still put up big numbers in his Bears career before he was traded away to the San Diego Chargers following the 1988 season. McMahon ranks 4th all time with over 11200 yards, 67 TD’s and 56 INT’s.
I know the tone of this post doesn’t make it seem like McMahon would be ranked the 30th best Bears player of all time. But I feel like with McMahon’s talent and moxy, he could have been much greater. He’s revered as one of the Bears all time greats, but his career comps (comparable players according to Pro-Football Reference) are Trent Dilfer, Neil O’Donnell, Jack Kemp, Rodney Peete, Billy Wade. I rest my case.
McMahon has fallen on some hard times with his health. He’s battled dementia and suicidal thoughts, which he attributes to the injuries he suffered as a player. Let’s hope for the best for Jimmy Mac.
What do you think of the ranking? Too high? Too low? I guess you’ll have to check back to see who finished ahead of him to judge for yourself. We’ll be counting down a different person each day as we inch our way to the September 7th season opener.