Card: Action Packed Rookies 1990
Acquired: In Person 1993, CGA Youth Golf Tournament
Jim McMahon was the strangest name ever to graduate from the college of BYU. Setting then passing records at the time at the religious institution, he’d be taken by Mike Ditka and the Chicago Bears run consumed offense. A practical joker and a guy who loved to goad authority with his free-spirited ways, Jim would be drafted in 1982 with the 5th pick overall and immediately clash with teammates, media, administration, coaches, and the commissioner’s office. Well his rookie season got fairly squealched by the NFL players strike, but he did accomplish a few things including being named starting quarterback of the Bears and NFC Offensive RoY. By 1985 the Chicago Bears juggernaut was rolling through the NFL finishing with a 15-1 record on the back of Jim’s improved play and its nightmarish defense. The team would march into the SuperBowl and crush the Patriots 45-10. They’d even make a commercial along the way called the “Superbowl Shuffle”. McMahon would do other comical things along the way such as moon the camera of a helicopter before the Superbowl while he was getting acupuncture treatment, and get into a heated commercial endorsement battle with commissioner Pete Rozelle over Jim’s headbands. Jim’s response to a fine he received for one of them was to put the word “Rozelle” on the next headband he wore. The commissioner was not amused and fined him again.
McMahon wore out his welcome in Chicago. In a way I always thought he was beloved by the town of Chicago, but not necessarily by the Bears organization. McMahon was traded to the San Diego Chargers, who pegged him as their savior encouraging him to throw and throw often. Jim’s stint in San Diego did not last long, but it did last long enough for awkward cards to be made of him. 1989 and 1990 were the first major years that Action Packed, Score and Fleer made cards. All of them made cards of him in his San Diego dubs not his Chicago uniform. McMahon was reunited with his former defensive coordinator at Chicago, Buddy Ryan in 1990 when he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. By this point many fans regarded him as washed up and after his short stint in San Diego where he ostracized much of his teammates and coaches. McMahon was considered a pariah. Backing up Randall Cunningham was a perfect stint for him as he’d fit in great with the team culture there. His 1990 season was largely off the radar and out of the media spotlight. A season ending injury would sideline the previously invulnerable Cunningham in 1991, and in trotted Jim McMahon who performed admirably in 11 games, posting an 8-3 record and earning a tough as nails reputation for playing through injury. Jim won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors that season. In 1992 Jim played one more season for the Eagles, but was relegated to the bench. He’d then begin his career as a journeyman quarterback. Beginning his NFC Central tour, McMahon in 1993 would start for 12 games for the Minnesota Vikings, posting an 8-4 record and some of the best statistics of his career. In 1994 McMahon was again reunited with head coach Buddy Ryan (his 3rd such stop with him) where he’d back up Steve Beuerlein in Arizona. After that season Jim signed with the Browns in the offseason, but by the end of the preseason was on the roster of the Green Bay Packers in 1995- backing up Brett Favre. He’d end his career in the right way winning another SuperBowl ring with the Packers, beating ironically the New England Patriots for a second time -10 years after SuperBowl XX.
Along with Mike Cofer (LB Detroit), and Greg Lang (RB Atlanta), McMahon would be among the first players to wear a protective visor for his eyes (see card above). He was also trendy with those headbands and was among the first quarterbacks to regularly wear gloves. Although many would credit this as his legacy, I’d also point out his talented ability to market himself to both the media and commercially that enamored and ostracized fans alike. Notable is Jim’s starting record at quarterback- which was 67-30 (he only posted two losing career records on 6 stops) but in 15 seasons, never played a full season. I met him at the CGA Youth Golf Tourney, where his appearance was a last second add. I was happy to put him in my collection, on this Action Packed card.
McMahon has lost none of his color since his retirement. He owns a team in the IFL called the Chicago Slaughter with his coach (former teammate) Steve McMichael. He reprized his role as from the infamous “Super Bowl Shuffle” video in 1985 in Boost Mobile’s Super Bowl halftime show in 2010. He plays some golf, makes regular USO appearances as a motivational speaker, and is attempting to finish his college degree from BYU as of 2010. Jim was inducted into the College Football HoF in 1999.
Below are his statistics, “The SuperBowl Shuffle”, a commerical endorsement he did for “Gotcha” Paintball guns, and his appearance on “The Late, Late Show with David Letterman”.
G/Gs 120/97 Att 2573 Comp 1492 Yds 18148 Pct 58.0% Td 100 Int 90 Rat 78.2