Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon was the target of one of the dirtiest plays the NFL has ever witnessed.
On Nov. 23, 1986, McMahon and the Bears were in the midst of a heated rivalry game against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers looked to get one up on the defending Super Bowl champions.
McMahon threw the ball on one play, and about 10 seconds later, Packers defensive lineman Charles Martin came over, picked up McMahon from behind and slammed him to the ground. McMahon suffered a torn rotator cuff as a result and was sidelined for the rest of the season. Martin was ejected from the game and suspended for two games.
The former Bears star told Fox News Digital that he never spoke to Martin after the incident. But he knew something dirty was going to come his way.
“Never talked to him. Never spoke to the guy,” McMahon said. “And I knew it was coming. It came from the head coach because [Packers head coach] Forrest Gregg and [Bears head coach Mike] Ditka didn’t like [each other], and Forrest sure didn’t like me either. So, I knew it was coming. I just thought I’d be able to see it.”
“I got a heads-up the night before by one of their teammates that said, ‘Our coach doesn’t like you. He said if we had a chance to take a shot on you to do it.’ I was kind of leery of that and there was so much bad blood all those years playing against the Packers. That’s why it took me so long to get to Green Bay because I just couldn’t see myself going up there after all the stuff that we had gone through.”
Martin told the Green Bay Press-Gazette at the time that he didn’t realize how bad the play was “until the media and TV and all that stuff was showing it every day.”
“I felt like I did something real terrible. But it wasn’t intentionally done to try to hurt him, to put him out of the game. I feel sorry for myself, for what I did. It was wrong, but I had no control over it. It just happened so fast. I wasn’t even thinking. I wish I had never done it.”
McMahon eventually joined the Packers for the final years of his career. He won a Super Bowl backing up Brett Favre.
Martin would spend time with the Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons after the 1986 season. He died in 2005.