Jim McMahon says he wishes he had played baseball. That seems strange coming from the man whose rebellious, physical game led the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl in 1985. This man, seemingly at the top of his game was flashy, showy, and mouthy. Jim McMahon talked it up and then backed it up on the field. He was America’s favorite and we couldn’t get enough.
But his body had enough.
Now 16 years after playing, at the young age of 53, he’s in the early stages of dementia. It’s an uncurable, progressive disease that puts McMahon in a game he can never win. McMahon is amongst a group of players suing the NFL claiming the NFL hid the effects of concussions. In spite of all his accolades and achievements which include a Super Bowl ring and Pro Bowl appearance, it doesn’t seem to matter. He stated,
“Being injured, if you don’t play, you don’t get paid. If I was able to walk out on that field, I was gonna play,” he said in an interview with Chicago’s WFLD-TV at his Arizona home. ” Had I known about that stuff early on in my career, I probably would have chosen a different career. I always wanted to be a baseball player anyway.”
This is a strong statment but the reality is even harsher. McMahon’s teammate Dave Duerson committed suicide and asked for his brain to be studied. He was found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the same disease found in other players who have died under similar and/or tragic circumstances.
Since then the NFL has made some improvements in dealing with concussions. Enhanced equipment as well as more stringent rules on the types of plays and hits that result in concussions have reduced the number overrall. Still, we see players who play injured, sacrificing their future for the moment. Pushing themselves to get the win, only to eventually lose.
While we as fans continue pressure athletes to perform in America’s favorite sport, we have to remeber it’s also one of the most dangerous. What’s the point of all the fame, accolades, achievements and accomplishments if years later you can’t remember them?
Your Jersey Girlfriend,