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The Bear In Mind
Curry Kirkpatrick
February 03, 1986
Predictably unpredictable, Jim McMahon labored long to make all of that hucksterism and hype work for him
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February 03, 1986

The Bear In Mind

Predictably unpredictable, Jim McMahon labored long to make all of that hucksterism and hype work for him

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To the tune of the Super Bowl Shuffle (and with apologies to Kurtis Blow and rap music in general):

I'm McMahon, yeah the football punk
Droppin' my pants, showin' some, uh, spunk
Shades and headbands, not missin' a beat
Adidas on everything, forget about it, Pete
My public is callin', man. What d'you think?
The Super Bowl's nothin' but a trip to the shrink
"Sluts? " "Idiots? " I never said squat
Why Noo Aw Leens is groovy, like hot
I should know, it made my career
Thanks to Hiroshi stickin' them needles in my rear
No damn doubt the Bears would kick some butt
Now I'm a legend, is this one great country or what?

This is the measure of the effect Jim McMahon created on football's global village during year XXVII, week XXIII of his still raw and abstruse life: In the end it didn't matter who won the game. Along about Thursday, McMahon had won the moment; he owned the Super Bowl—lock, stock, cause and effect, wonders and warts, blank minute, Up With People (not to mention punkers) and all.

Was this unprecedented? Well, yes. Other immortals had come close to this quid pro quo coup in the past, however unconsciously. Hollywood Henderson, John Matuszak, Duane Thomas—the last by not talking; now there was a real hero. Just the sound of the names brings a lump to the throat. And of course, the progenitor, Broadway's own Joe Namath.

But amusing and exciting the populace is one thing—Namath merely popped a few dozen whiskeys and "guaranteed" victory. Did every poor lost soul on any street at any Super Bowl anytime anywhere try so desperately to talk, act and look like Joe Willie?

Sorry, history.

So let's hear it, Chicago:

We're not here to start no trouble
We're just bein' Jimmy Mac's double

And sure enough here they came, fairly engulfing the Vieux Carr� in their McMahon butch haircuts and their McMahon billboard shirts and their McMahon black glasses affixed with glitter straps and their McMahon white headbands labeled with everything from ROZELLE—a bargain at five bucks—to GRABOWSKI and ultimately to I NEED THIS. And then they proceeded to do everything McMahon-like except head-butt strippers and derelicts off the wrought iron verandas. McMahon was everywhere, at least strange in-the-flesh facsimiles were. And the folks who weren't trying to be him would undoubtedly be talking about him.

So what if Libyan planes were staring America down over the Gulf of Sidra? Did McMahon really say those things about the people of the city? Gramm-Rudman? Aren't those McMahon's walk-around guys in the Hawaiian shirts? Voyager 2 photographed 10 new moons around Uranus? Did you hear that McMahon swung by his heels through all those brassieres in the rafters at the Old Absinthe House and then vomited on Frank Sinatra?

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