The only things Bear quarterback Jim McMahon throws at wide receiver Willie Gault these days are verbal barbs.
" Football's on his mind," McMahon said sarcastically after Gault took a day off from camp to attend a Lay Witnesses for Christ program at the Olympics.
Coach Mike Ditka gave Gault permission for the trip but now may be regretting the decision because it widened the rift between Gault and his teammates—especially McMahon—who question Gault's commitment to football. Gault missed most of last year's camp while competing in track and has had a hard time learning his routes. But when his production slipped near the end of the season, he claimed that McMahon was overlooking him.
Says McMahon, "I told him last year, 'If you don't run the right route or you don't catch the ball, you won't see the football.' If I yell at him, it's not because he's Willie Gault. It's because I want to make him better, and I want to make myself not look like an ass because I threw him an out and he went deep."
This year Gault missed a May mini-camp to attend a hearing at which he sought to have his amateur track status reinstated—it wasn't—and was the only veteran receiver who failed to report to training camp early.
"Willie's going to have to work this year," McMahon says. "That's not me talking, that's the coaches."
Gault seems unfazed. "We have too many people around here worrying about other people," he says.
Falcon tight end Arthur Cox was all set to have arthroscopic surgery July 30 on his right knee...until Dr. John Garrett discovered his patient hadn't followed doctor's orders.
"Did you have anything to eat or drink after midnight?" Garrett asked.
"No," said Cox, "but I had a big breakfast this morning."