DURING THE WEEK IT WAS all Jim McMahon. Postgame it was Buddy
Ryan. Somewhere lost in the middle were Walter Payton and the Fridge
. . . and the New England Patriots. And yes, the game itself, because
it ended 46-10, Chicago, the greatest blowout in Super Bowl history.
This is an article from the Jan. 2, 1989 issue
It was over in the first quarter: Bears 13, Patriots 3. Total
yards for New England: minus 19. In the first minute of play, the
Pats recover a fumble on the Chicago 19. Tight end Lin Dawson misses
a touchdown pass when his left knee crumbles. The Pats settle for a
field goal. I have actually heard people say that a touchdown then
would have changed the course of the game. Yes, New England would
have been beaten worse because the Bears would have really gotten
I check my notes and quotes. Pats sacked seven times. . . .
Quarterback Tony Eason out of the game in second quarter. . . . ''We
threw blitzes at them that they weren't ready for.'' . . . ''Soupy
Blitz.'' Why Soupy? Named after former Bear linebacker Gary Campbell.
More? O.K., McMahon came into the game with a sore tailbone, a
fact duly recorded, and speculated about, early in the week. That was
before things got lively. The tailbone was completely forgotten about
two minutes into the game, after McMahon threw a 43-yard pass to
Willie Gault. The Patriots fumbled deep to set up 10 gimme points in
the first quarter, then Chicago earned 10 points on drives in the
second. And added three touchdowns in the third. Then it was time to
give people playing time toward their varsity letters.
The Bears came into the week with a swagger unmatched in the
history of the Super Bowl. They had recorded their video, the Super
We're not here to start no trouble,
We're just here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle.
That always bothered me. How could they get away with rhyming
trouble with shuffle? They could have substituted scuffle for
The point is that they were good and they knew it. Everyone was
making money. William (the Refrigerator) Perry got, pardon the
expression, fat on endorsements. McMahon, middle linebacker Mike
Singletary and coach Mike Ditka were all writing books that would
appear on the best-seller list. A year later the market adjusted
itself and the flood of New York Giants books bombed out, but the
Bears rode the crest. And McMahon was their bad-boy leader, their
News items from Super Bowl week: BEARS THROW MCMAHON ACUPUNCTURIST
OFF TEAM PLANE . . . ROZELLE ORDERS MCMAHON TO REMOVE ADIDAS FROM
HEADBAND . . . MCMAHON MOONS HELICOPTER. And finally, MCMAHON INSULTS
NEW ORLEANS WOMANHOOD. This last was a bum rap. A New Orleans
sportscaster reported that he heard someone tell someone else that he
heard McMahon say it on someone else's radio show. What did he say?
Something to the effect that New Orleans women were bimbos and dumb
and ignorant. Kind of redundant, but that's what the guy said someone
said McMahon said. There was no proof to back it up, and a retraction
But we didn't know that when we innocently strolled over to the
Bears' hotel on Thursday and found ourselves in the middle of a
demonstration -- cops, sawhorses to keep the protesters in line, the
works. Signs, too, of course.
MCMAHON HAS NO FANS, HE RUINED OUR PLANS . . . MCMAHON HAS NO
CLASS. HE ONLY SHOWS HIS -- -- . . . THE WOMEN OF NEW ORLEANS
HAVE MORE CLASS IN THEIR BIG TOE THAN MCMAHON HAS IN HIS WHOLE BODY.
I filled two notebook pages with an interview of a Roxanne, no
last name given. She was asked how she knew that McMahon had really
made the statements.
But how do you know he really said it?
''He does all those other things . . . moons a helicopter,
Supposedly they're going to retract the statement.
''Well, we just don't like Jim McMahon's attitude.''
''Typical Bears week,'' said free safety Gary Fencik. ''The
crazies are all in place.''
McMahon had been interviewed as soon as he stepped off the plane
in New Orleans and then again as soon as the Bears checked into their
hotel . . . and every day thereafter. He submitted to everything with
a kind of tired, resigned look, and some of those questions he was
asked rank with the dumbest I've ever heard, and that includes
previous Super Bowl weeks.
''Are you crazy?''
''Well, one of my favorite movies is One Flew over the Cuckoo's
Nest. Some people thought McMurphy was crazy too. It's how you people
perceive me, and I'm not nuts either.''
''What does Ditka say?''
''He knows I'm not nuts.''
''Because he's worse than me.''
The Patriots players read all that stuff and shrugged.
''It's mostly a put-on,'' tackle Brian Holloway said. ''He's a
True enough. Stripped of his flamboyant reputation, McMahon has
turned out to be a highly productive and courageous quarterback who
has been willing to play in pain nearly throughout his career. But
Super Bowl XX week was lunacy time for him in New Orleans.
When the game was over, when the final statistics were tallied,
the Bears had set a record for fewest rushing yards allowed (seven,
that's seven, for the whole game), and the 123 total yards the
Patriots gained were four above the alltime low -- that spot being
held by the Vikings in Super Bowl IX. Ryan's 46 defense had been the
hot topic all season as the Bears racked up their 15-1 record -- it
was committed to all-out pressure, stacking two outside linebackers
on the same side. Of course, having a unit that started eight past,
present or future Pro Bowlers helped, but it was Ryan who kept the
I had gotten to know Buddy well when I covered the New York Jets.
He was their defensive line coach. He was quiet, funny and low-key in
those days, a bit awed by the head man, Weeb Ewbank. He was hardly
the Will Rogers he became on the Bears.
The Chicago players deny it now, but Ryan had an almost hypnotic
effect on them at the time. On the night before the Super Bowl he
practically told them that he was leaving the team to go to the
Philadelphia Eagles as head coach. < He ended his emotional speech
with the statement ''You're all my heroes.'' Steve McMichael threw a
chair into the blackboard. Dan Hampton knocked over a film projector.
And the next day, with two minutes to go, the defensive players, led
by Hampton, gathered around the Bears' president, Mike McCaskey, and
begged him to pay Buddy anything to keep him from leaving.
''We are an extension of Buddy Ryan,'' said strong safety Dave
Duerson. ''If we lose him, we'll be a good defensive unit. If we keep
him we'll be in the Super Bowl for the next five years.''
''If we don't have him,'' Singletary said, ''we don't have much.''
Well, the Bears have done just fine with Vince Tobin as their
defensive coach. Buddy's Eagles have struggled, playing inspired
defense at times, but they have also been guilty of major lapses.
Ditka, who should have come out of the Super Bowl victory with pure
joy, had mixed emotions: happiness with the victory, sure, but also a
lingering resentment at the way he had been upstaged, and
occasionally undercut, by his defensive assistant. It's a funny