Mike Tomczak is a great example of what an embattled quarterback is, suffering through the drama and controversy of being sandwiched between the Jim McMahon and the Jim Harbaugh eras in Mike Ditka’s run as head coach of the Chicago Bears. Tomczak was not drafted by the Bears, rather he was an unpolished diamond in the rough that the team plunked out of Ohio State in 1985. The scrappy, pretty boy quarterback got in some playing time and things looked even more opportunistic for him with the retirement of Steve Fuller after 1986, but the Bears had other plans and pulled the trigger on Michigan signal caller Jim Harbaugh in ’87 during the first round of the draft.
Tomczak still got playing time in between McMahon and Harbaugh as both quarterbacks (McMahon and Harbaugh) had a propensity to get injured. A good game manager, Tomczak had the quirky honor of winning his first 10 professional starts at quarterback. This allowed for a quarterback controversy to bloom first with McMahon and then later with Harbaugh as fans just wanted to win, no matter how ugly it was. It was rough for Mike as he had a tendency to force the ball to the receiver early in his playing career. After 6 seasons in Chicago, Mike was allowed to leave via Free Agency. For the Bears, Tomczak posted a 21-10 record as a starter, a 49.6 completion percentage, and 33 touchdowns to 47 interceptions. He also ran for 326 yards and 8 touchdowns. Mike didn’t have to travel far- in fact, he went up the road to division rival Green Bay.
Green Bay had been a doormat for the NFC Central for many years, but after an amazing 1989 season with Don Majkowski at the helm guiding the team to a 10-6 record, people expected more of the Pack, but with an underwhelming 1990, at 6-10 losing some pretty tight games, optimism was still riding high in 1991. Things didn’t go as planned, and Mike split time with Majkowski. He’d post decent numbers under center, (11 TDs to 9 picks and 1490 yards) but the team fell to a 4-12 mark. In Green Bay it was regime changing time, so Lindy Infante and his staff were out the door, and so was Mike.
Things didn’t change for Tomczak. Either he had the best or worst luck of any professional out there. Either there was an incumbent who got injured so he stepped right in, or coaches wanted him to replace the starter. Case in point, Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns in 1993. After a slow start and a broken hand impeded Bernie Kosar, Tomczak, who didn’t play all that bad, lead the team to a 4-4 record in Kosar’s relief. Again, it was a short stop for Mike, as he’d be replaced by Vinny Testaverde.
Mike landed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1994. He’d back up Neil O’Donnell at quarterback and see his first SuperBowl since his rookie season after the 1995 season- a loss to the Cowboys. He’d get his chance to show his stuff though shortly after, and be named starter of the Steelers in 1996. Tomczak had his best season since his days in Chicago, posting a 10-5 record. It was shortlived, and he’d be replaced in the lineup by electrifying, if not inconsistent, Kordell Stewart. Stewart remained starter throughout the 1998 season with Mike seeing limited playing time here and there until 1999 when he played in 5 more contests. He’d have a really nice finale to his time there throwing for 1625 yards and 12 touchdowns to only 8 picks. In a footnote, Tomczak signed with the Detroit Lions in 2000, but broke his leg and decided to end his career. He’d be the final member of the Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX team to retire.
Mike has remained involved in the sport since retirement. He’s worked behind the desk and as a color commentator for games. As of 2013, Mike is the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League.
G/Gs 185/73 Att 2337 Comp 1248 Yds 16079 Pct 53.4 Td 88 Int 85 Rat 68.9 |
Rush 198 Yds 526 Avg 2.7 Td 9 Lg 48