The moment the idea is mentioned that a Chicago Bears quarterback owns any kind of NFL record, it’s likely the immediate thoughts of fans drift into the realm of pessimism. Which bad number are they going to hear?
Interceptions in a season?
Fumbles in a game?
Consecutive games without a touchdown pass?
Such has been the largely dismal legacy of Bears quarterbacks over the years that many struggle to believe there was ever any bright spots. That is not true. In fact for a space of time during the 1980s, their man under center was considered one of the best and brightest in the game. That was Jim McMahon. The BYU product had a reputation for his rebellious ways, something head coach Mike Ditka can attest to given the years he spent watching McMahon defy him on the field by changing play calls and refusing to slide when running with the ball.
Yet for all the headaches Iron Mike got in those days, he’d be the first to say how much the “Punky QB” meant to the team, and it’s reflected in an NFL record no other has been able to touch since.
“Nearly every football fan on Planet Earth over 30 years old knows about the 1985 Chicago Bears. Mike Ditka’s team, Buddy Ryan’s defense and the greatest running back this side of Jim Brown — those were Da Bears of three decades ago. They won every game but one en route to an 18-1 season and a big, fat Super Bowl ring.
That one loss came on a Monday night in Miami, a contest started by backup quarterback Steve Fuller. You see, every time Jim McMahon started that season (including the playoffs) the Bears won. Ditto 1986. In fact, from McMahon’s last few starts in 1984 to his first few starts of ’87, the product of Brigham Young (the school, not the man) simply did not lose. In the process, McMahon won 25 straight starts, a feat that has never been matched by an NFL quarterback. It should be noted that the Bears didn’t win every game during those four years — going 10-6, 15-1, 14-2 and 11-4 during the regular season(s). But nearly every time they lost, McMahon was hurt.”
McMahon was a Pro Bowl player in 1985, so it’s not like the guy was just the helmsman of a high-powered ship. He made plays when he had to and was an excellent leader on the field. The only problem he could never get over was health. Between ’84 and ’87, he missed a total of 25 games with injury. To this day it has led some to wonder just how far that Chicago Bears team could’ve gone had McMahon been able to stay on the field consistently.
At least one extra Super Bowl ring certainly isn’t out of the question. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Still, at least the franchise has one quarterback record they can continue to quietly celebrate, knowing even the greatest in the game to follow McMahon haven’t come close to duplicating it.