Jim McMahon Reflects on Infamous NFL Play Amid Bears Rivalry

Exploring a notorious moment in NFL's storied history.

by Nouman Rasool
Jim McMahon Reflects on Infamous NFL Play Amid Bears Rivalry
© David Calvert/Getty Images

In a revealing conversation, Jim McMahon, the former quarterback for the Chicago Bears, revisited one of the most controversial moments in NFL history that occurred during a tense match against the Green Bay Packers on November 23, 1986.

The incident, which has since been etched in the annals of the sport as one of its most egregious fouls, saw McMahon become the unfortunate recipient of a late and brutal tackle by Packers defensive lineman Charles Martin, long after a play had concluded.

The clash, set against the backdrop of a fierce rivalry, escalated when Martin lifted McMahon from behind and forcefully slammed him onto the turf, causing a severe rotator cuff injury that prematurely ended McMahon's season.

The fallout from the play was immediate, with Martin being ejected from the game and subsequently suspended for two games, a decision that underscored the play's severity.

McMahon's Silent Aftermath

McMahon, in his recount to Fox News Digital, disclosed that he had never exchanged words with Martin post-incident, despite being forewarned of potential hostility.

"I was aware that something was amiss. It was evident the directive had trickled down from the coaching echelons, given the palpable animosity between Packers head coach Forrest Gregg and Bears counterpart Mike Ditka, with Gregg harboring a particular disdain for me," McMahon remarked.

This premonition was rooted in the deep-seated rivalry that colored the teams' encounters, making McMahon wary of joining the Packers later in his career, despite eventually doing so and securing a Super Bowl victory as Brett Favre's understudy.

Martin, in a retrospective admission to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, expressed regret over the incident, acknowledging its gravity only in the aftermath, magnified by relentless media scrutiny. "The repercussions of my actions dawned on me through the relentless media coverage.

It was never my intention to inflict harm or sideline him from the game. The moment unfolded with such rapidity that it stripped me of any semblance of control," Martin confessed, reflecting on a moment of impetuosity that marred his career.

McMahon's journey post-incident saw him don the Packers' colors, culminating in a Super Bowl triumph, while Martin's career took him to the Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons before his passing in 2005. This episode remains a stark reminder of the intensity and unpredictability that define the NFL, particularly within the crucible of its most storied rivalries.