(NEXSTAR) – Jim McMahon still rocks a pair of sunglasses as well as anyone associated with the NFL, but the Chicago Bears fan favorite wasn’t able to play it cool on draft day 1982.
In an interview with Jarrett Payton — son of Bears great Walter Payton — McMahon recalls learning that his first NFL snaps would not come in a Colts uniform.
“That’s who was picking 4th that year. All indications were, that’s where I was headed,” recalled McMahon, referencing the franchise that would soon move from Baltimore to Indianapolis. “I was having lunch and dinner with Johnny Unitas at his restaurant. He was telling me all about the city of Baltimore, this and that. I had forgotten I had told my agent I didn’t want to be in Baltimore.”
McMahon says he didn’t even know the Bears were next on the clock.
“It happened to be Chicago. I got the call from them. Five hours later, I’m in Chicago getting out of the limo with a beer, and they made a big stink about it.”
McMahon says legendary owner George Halas immediately said he was too short, injured and should consider playing in Canada.
“I said, ‘Why’d you draft me old man? Who is in your scouting department?”
McMahon says the initial contract offer was so low he went looking at the emerging USFL. After that didn’t pan out, McMahon signed his offer from the Bears.
“It still haunting me,” McMahon says.
McMahon’s persona would earn him endorsement deals and a legion of loyal fans, but it was his role in the Bears’ first Super Bowl after the 1985 season that cemented him as a household name.
He would go on to start 97 NFL games, playing for six different NFL franchises.
He says he still enjoys a cold beer. He just drinks them on the golf course these days.