Interview: Jim McMahon, CJ Wallis on Upcoming Documentary

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CHICAGO – As a sports obsessed adolescent growing up in Chicago during the 1980s, nothing dominated the headlines more than the Chicago Bears. Leading the carnival of mayhem and madness was quarterback Jim McMahon. McMahon helped lead the Chicago Bears to a 15-1 record in 1985, and a dominant 46-10 win over New England in Super Bowl XX.



He played the quarterback position like a linebacker and his teammates and fans appreciated the way he attacked the game with reckless abandon, with little regard for his own personal health and safety. His tough and rebellious attitude combined with his sunglasses, headbands and punk haircuts encapsulated what the ‘80s were all about … the team and QB left such a lasting impression on me that I named my son Jimmy. 

MadM1
Poster Art for ‘Mad Mac: The Memory of Jim McMahon
Photo credit: Magrette Bird Pictures & Upstream Flix

Yet, oftentimes we remember our sports heroes as they were on the field and don’t take the time to consider what their life was like after their playing days are over. The upcoming and eagerly anticipated documentary (release scheduled for 2021) is “Mad Mac: The Memory of Jim McMahon,” directed by CJ Wallis. The director, along with producer Mallory Kennedy, has previously created the films “The Fiddling Horse” (Best Picture, 2019 Golden Gate International Film Festival) and “Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much,” about a math teacher who outsmarted “The Price is Right.”


“Mad Mac” will celebrate McMahon’s football career while also chronicling his post NFL battles with CTE … Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy … the brain degeneration caused by repeated head trauma (such as repetitive NFL hits). McMahon – who is well known for not taking crap from anyone and playing by his own rules – is taking the same in-your-face mentality to his new battle with CTE, and to promote CTE awareness.

I recently talked to Jim McMahon and director CJ Wallis for HollywoodChicago.com.

StarJim McMahon, Former Quarterback for the Chicago Bears

Jeff Doles for HollywoodChicago.com: You have used your platform as a legendary athlete – including this upcoming documentary – to advocate for CTE awareness. How has your defiant and outspoken attitude towards authority helped you be successful in your cause?

Jim McMahon:  I don’t know if it’s my attitude towards authority … I questioned authority sometimes. And you have to do so when you see it, you got to call out injustice and that’s what I’ve tried to do. I’m not trying to put myself on a pedestal, but I’m trying to let people know these things aren’t right, and that they need to be corrected. Hopefully, that will help out.

MadM2
Jim McMahon Today: A Painting by CJ Wallis
Photo credit: FortyFPS.com

HollywoodChicago.com: Why do you think after 35 years there is still such an interest in the 1985 Bears and the players?

McMahon: Well, I think it’s because people saw us without our helmets on. They saw guys doing commercials. They saw guys doing radio and TV shows. They were out in the public more and that’s probably one of the first times that that’s ever happened. And plus, we were not just good, we had a lot of great personalities on the team. That’s why people enjoyed us.

HollywoodChicago.com: Do you see any current NFL quarterbacks that remind you of yourself during your playing days?  If so, who and in what capacity?

McMahon: Well, I don’t watch a lot of football now, but the only quarterback now that I would say I played like would be Patrick Mahomes … you might laugh at that I’m sure. I certainly don’t have the foot speed that Patrick’s got, but I think as far as our creativity and our understanding of offenses we are similar. He also throws the ball from any angle and with either hand, and I did the same as well.

GO TO PAGE TWO for an interview with CJ Wallis, the director of “Mad Mac: The Memory of Jim McMahon.

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