NEW ORLEANS — Bear quarterback Jim McMahon said Tuesday he expected to speak to team president Michael McCaskey about the status of acupuncturist Hiroshi Shiriashi.
Shiriashi, the trainer for the Japanese national track team, recently treated McMahon for a back and buttocks injury. The treatment, McMahon said, was helpful and seemed to relieve the pain and pressure of the injury better than conventional methods.
But on Monday, as the Bears prepared to leave for New Orleans, Shiriashi was told he couldn't travel on the team plane. McCaskey made the decision, saying he didn't believe this was the time for Bear players to begin experimenting with acupuncture.
Shiriashi also treated several other Bear players about a month ago.
Said McMahon: "I'm just going to ask (McCaskey) why he (Shiriashi) isn't here. If they don't want to bring him, the players will bring him."
In a statement released late Monday evening, the Bears had said: "Upper management felt (Shiriashi) didn't belong on the trip. Fred Caito (Chicago trainer) will treat him the rest of the week. He knows what Jim's pain threshold is and he knows the extent of the injury."
McMahon said Tuesday that he had tried acupuncture because he thought he needed to do something. "It started feeling better yesterday and it's a little better today," he said. "But I'm nowhere near ready to play Sunday.
"There's no doubt I'll play. How long I'll play is the question. Whether or not this thing is healed enough to play the whole game or not is yet to be determined. I know if I fall on it again I won't be playing very long.
"We've got guys that are nicked and we need them healthy to play this ballgame. I think all of us feel he (Shiriashi) should be here and we're going to try to get him here one way or another. Even if we have to pay for it, fine."
In Chicago, however, the Illinois State Acupuncture Assn. said it would fly Shiriashi and Bill Anderson, the association's legislative liaison and an acupuncturist himself, to New Orleans.
McMahon's injury occurred in the second period of the NFC championship game while he was scrambling against the Rams. Linebacker Jim Collins hit McMahon as the quarterback slid to the ground. McMahon also said he had been hit while sliding the previous week against the New York Giants in a divisional playoff game.
"When you get hit sometimes by those guys it's not a whole lot of fun, especially when they're not supposed to hit you," McMahon said. "(Bear coaches) told me to start sliding to protect myself and I start sliding and I get hurt. I don't see the logic in that."
Shiriashi, who was recommended to McMahon by Willie Gault, a former international track star and now a Bear wide receiver, remained in Chicago Monday and apparently Tuesday, too. But Gault said Tuesday he plans to arrange for Shiriashi's arrival in New Orleans as soon as possible.
McMahon said he got a letter from National Football League commissioner Pete Rozelle about the headband worn by the quarterback during the NFC title game. Warned by the league not to wear an Adidas headband, McMahon printed ROZELLE on a white headband and wore it in the victory against the Rams.
"It was pretty funny," McMahon said of Rozelle's letter. "(Rozelle) told me he was disappointed that I introduced his new line of clothes early."
Bear defensive tackle Steve McMichael said he has his own idea for a headband. It would read: "Space For Rent."
McMichael, from the University of Texas, is the same guy the New England Patriots drafted in 1980. He was cut by then-Coach Ron Erhardt shortly thereafter, and the Bears signed him as a free agent in 1981.
"(Erhardt) said I might catch on somewhere as a second-teamer," McMichael said. "I proved him wrong, hah, hah.
"I've had more downs than ups," he said.
McMichael left Texas with a reputation as a free spirit of sorts. Others have substituted the words juvenile delinquent for free spirit .
"A lot of wasted time and effort, and it was my fault," he said. "Nobody gets anything out of acting like an idiot. I'm talking (about) on and off the field.
"I'm like Willie Nelson now: laid back at 55."
With the NFL season just one game away from conclusion, Bear defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan was asked if he still considered lineman William (The Refrigerator) Perry a wasted draft choice, as he did last summer when practice began.
"It depends on what context it was in," Ryan said. "You see he did get down to pretty good shape and he is playing pretty good, although he's not going to get in the Pro Bowl anytime soon."
The respect among New England players for Coach Raymond Berry is legitimate. This from Pro Bowl offensive guard John Hannah, when asked the differences between Berry and Ron Meyer, the coach he succeeded:
"Let me ask you a question: Do you work better when someone shows you respect or when they're on your back all the time?"