"I was having a lot of fun playing football again," said Hogeboom, traded last spring from Dallas. "Just two games put it all back in my system."
For some time the NFL has tried to soften its image by running United Way commercials during games; the ads feature a warmer, more human side to players, usually showing them at work for charities in their communities. But since the marriage of MTV and pro football last season—the bad-boy attitudes of the Chicago Bears fit the union perfectly—some players are now posing for posters that promote a more violent side of football.
America is buying it, too, and the league isn't happy. Says an executive with NFL Properties, "We have nothing to do with these posters. If there was any reference to the NFL—any logos or uniforms—we'd have final approval. Then, we'd look at it from the taste standpoint. Clearly, these images are not consistent with the [one] we want to project."
In a poster titled MAD MAC...THE GRID WARRIOR, Chicago quarterback Jim McMahon, decked out in a leather jacket with skull-and-crossbones buttons, high-top boots and sunglasses, stands in front of Soldier Field holding a loaded crossbow.
"He just did it to have fun," says Steve Zucker, McMahon's agent. Already, 35,000 of the posters have been sold, and with orders coming in daily, the poster company expects to sell 500,000. Retail price: $4.95.
"It's certainly a tough-guy poster," Zucker says. "But I think that's the Bears' image. It always has been. Anything with Jim right now would go over, more because of Jim McMahon than his costume—whether he's wearing his uniform, blue jeans or Mad Mac stuff. He's like a rock star. You should see him in public. He gets mobbed."
In Seattle, safety Kenny Easley has come out with a poster titled THE ENFORCER. Easley, a bone-jarring tackier, is posed in a dark alley, wearing a sleeveless leather jacket and ripped jeans. There is tape wrapped around his forearms and leather gloves on his hands; one fist is tightly clenched. At his feet lie bits and pieces of opponents' uniforms. On his face, there's an icy stare.
"Sure we're concerned," says Mike McCormack, Seahawks G.M. "But what are you going to do? He has the right to promote himself the way he wants."
"I don't want to talk about my poster," Easley says, then adds, "I don't think it projects any image. I haven't studied it long enough to develop any kind of ideology."
All-Pro Andre Tippett of the Patriots thinks he's at the top of his game. "When it comes to linebackers," Tippett says, "I'm the Man. When I came into the league, I considered Lawrence Taylor and Hugh Green the best. They were where I wanted to be; I dedicated myself to getting them. By the beginning of last year, I felt I had moved into the same category with Taylor. Now I feel I'm ahead of them all."