10 moments that made BYU and NFL quarterback Jim McMahon famous — and infamous (10 items)
To say Jim McMahon is well known both in Utah and in football would be a terrible understatement.
ESPN called him a rebel without pause. The BYU faithful still sing his praises for his on-the-field accomplishments. Chicago knows him as the "Punky QB" of Super Bowl Shuffle fame. His antics over the course of his career as a BYU and NFL quarterback have earned him fame, not to mention more than his fair share of infamy.
The gutsy, fiery and unrepentant quarterback is not a part of BYU's Hall of Fame. That, however, does not prevent him from introduction into the state of Utah's Sports Hall of Fame.
Along with BYU volleyball legend Michelle Fellows Lewis, Utah football legends Ron McBride and Marv Fleming as well as golfer Billy Casper, McMahon will be inducted into the Beehive State's hall of sports greatness this evening, his likeness forever to grace the walls of EnergySolutions Arena — at least until the Hall of Fame moves somewhere else.
With McMahon's Tuesday introduction into the Hall of Fame, let's take a look at 10 events by which McMahon earned fame and infamy.
1 of 10. THE LEGEND BEGINS
Jim McMahon came to BYU in 1977, but was not the quarterback. In fact, he was the punter his freshman season. He practiced with the quarterbacks and got a significant number of reps, but never played there until 1978 when Marc Wilson, another BYU legend, went down with an injury.
In McMahon's collegiate debut as a signal caller against Colorado State, he accounted for 112 passing yards, 80 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He was named the Player of the Game. Furthermore, his success at the position led BYU to play both McMahon and Wilson at QB throughout the remainder of the year.
Some say when you have two starting quarterbacks, you really have none. It would be tough to make that assertion with McMahon and Wilson for the 1978 season.
2 of 10. A BEER, MR. MCMAHON?
McMahon was and is overtly not a member of the Mormon Church, which at the time of his enrollment at BYU was by far the exception, not the norm. Though McMahon played at BYU and never received an Honor Code suspension, it was no secret that he was not interested in living an LDS lifestyle after his departure from college. By his own admission, he was on probation for most of the five years he was in Provo.
Perhaps McMahon was overcompensating or perhaps he was just really thirsty. Whatever the reason, McMahon showed up at his first public function as a member of the Chicago Bears with a beer in hand. Head coach Mike Ditka and owner George Halas were none too pleased.
3 of 10. SUPER BOWL SHUFFLE
What's to say about the Super Bowl Shuffle? The video, produced after the Bears won Super Bowl XX, was a huge hit.
McMahon was one of several Bears to rap to the music. Walter Payton and Mike Singletary put down some sweet lyrics as well, and it lives in infamy to this day.
4 of 10. PUTTING LEBRON'S HEADBAND TO SHAME
In this world of corporate sports sponsorships, the thought that the league would fine a player for wearing branded apparel is nigh unto laughable.
Yet that's exactly what NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle did. He slapped McMahon with a $5,000 fine for wearing an Adidas headband during an NFL playoffs game.
The next week, McMahon wore a headband that read, "Rozelle." Reports indicated that Rozelle thought it was hilarious, but the fine stood.
5 of 10. PLEASURE TO MEET YOU, MR. PRESIDENT
To say that the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers are rivals is stating the obvious. It's like saying that Ohio State and Michigan are rivals, that the Red Sox and Yankees are rivals, or that BYU and Utah are rivals. There are Bears and then there are Packers.
Mad Mac was a Bear.
When he met with President Clinton in 1997 following his Super Bowl win as Brett Favre's backup in Green Bay, he wore his No. 9 Bears jersey, much to the chagrin of Packer Nation.
He did so because the 1986 Super Bowl Champion Bears never got to go. The Challenger space shuttle exploded on the day the Bears were scheduled for the White House visit, and so obviously they had to take a back seat on that day.