36th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game

36th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979

Bears 12, Packers 10: November 23, 1986

Would the 2-9 Green Bay Packers be able to make it a game, playing at Soldier Field against the conference-leading 9-2 Chicago Bears?  Being a Bears-Packers game in the 1980′s, of course they would.

But one Packer had an additional twist to show the Bears in this contest.  Defensive end Charles Martin displayed throughout the game a towel hanging from his pants, which apparently constituted a “hit list.”  On the towel were written in permanent marker the numbers 9, 34, 29, and 83, assumed to mean he would be going after Jim McMahon, Walter Payton, Dennis Gentry and Willie Gault.

Midway through the game, with the Bears leading 9-0, McMahon threw a pass that was intercepted.  As the quarterback was trotting down the field watching the interception return, Martin picked up McMahon from behind and slammed him to the hard Soldier Field Astroturf.  McMahon’s shoulder was injured to the degree that it may not have healed fully until the 1988 season, and may still never have been the same.

The Bears won the game, but as their offense was inept in 1986 when McMahon wasn’t piloting it, his removal for the remainder of the season at the hands of a Packer may have spoiled Chicago’s chances of returning to the Super Bowl.

2 Responses to “36th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game”

  1. Good choice for a memorable game, Roy. I was only 9 but I remember this game well. Here’s my accountof what took place, which could be verified or rejected by anyone who remembers better than I:
    - Context: McMahon had been fighting that shoulder injury to varying degrees since week 1, so he was gutting his way through ’86.
    - When the “incident” occurred, the game was delayed for a few minutes to break up scuffles between outraged Bears and feisty Packers, and to announce Martin’s ejection.
    - When the Packers offense took the field to resume play, word of the incident had spread through the Soldier Field crowd. I almost felt sorry for GB QB Randy Wright, who had to operate in the face of a furious (and elite!) defense and an equally furious capacity crowd!
    - Wright was sacked HARD by at least 4 Bears on that first play after the incident.
    - McMahon tried to play through the aggravated injury into the 2nd half, but had lost his effectiveness, throwing his deeper passes sidearm, so he was removed sometime in the 3rd quarter.

    I’m not sure if the Bears with a healthy McMahon could have beaten the Giants in ’86, but it sure would have been fun to see…

  2. I like your comments Tim. I was 8 when I started following the Bears in 1979, so we’re roughly from the same era, although I’m the old man :)

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