NEW ORLEANS — Jim McMahon, whose sore backside has been the biggest story of Super Bowl week, said Wednesday: "There's no chance of me missing this game."
The Bears' free-spirited quarterback has been taking acupuncture treatments for the bruised buttocks and lower back he suffered when Ram linebacker Jim Collins hit him in the NFC title game at Chicago Jan. 12, and he hasn't appreciated the attention.
"It's been a pain in the ass, really," he said.
McMahon's personal acupuncturist, Hiroshi Shiriashi of Japan, arrived in town Wednesday and gave McMahon another treatment in his hotel room before practice.
The Bears haven't endorsed the treatments but haven't prohibited them either--probably because, knowing McMahon, it wouldn't do any good.
"He puts the needles in around the sore spot where the pressure points are," McMahon said of the acupuncture.
McMahon was scrambling on the play and had slid feet first, which he thought should have protected him under a new rule.
"When you slide feet first they're not supposed to hit you," said McMahon, who complained to the officials after the play. "They (the officials) are supposed to throw a flag.
"They fine me $5,000 for wearing a headband but don't throw a flag for hitting late."
McMahon and Collins will be teammates in the Pro Bowl at Honolulu next week. Collins was added to the NFC squad as an alternate by Ram Coach John Robinson, whose staff will coach the team.
McMahon rejoined the Bears' offensive unit in Wednesday's practice after merely throwing on the sideline Tuesday.
Bear Coach Mike Ditka said: "The main thing I was impressed with was all of his movement. He was 200% better today. I'm really optimistic now."
McMahon was wearing a new headband labeled acupuncture as Shiriashi watched from the sidelines .
"I don't think I have to make a decision on McMahon until right up to game time, as long as he's ready mentally, which he is," Ditka said.
McMahon's replacement would be Steve Fuller, a former Chief and Ram quarterback who played considerably, for a backup, this season.
McMahon said: "I missed some games--took myself out of the lineup--during the regular season so I would be ready for the playoffs."
Fuller said: "He's not telling you a story. He is hurting. I really don't think he's going to be 100% as far as running hard. His arm and throwing motion aren't going to be affected, but you might see him staying in the pocket a little more. It may change a few of the things we're trying to do."
Fuller is due to become a free agent after the season, but he wouldn't say whether he would trade being a backup on a Super Bowl team for starting for a lesser club.
"It's a tough decision," he said. "As a seven-year veteran you have to decide if you really want to make another move. I don't think I do."
McMahon was involved in a minor incident with an overeager photographer in the French Quarter Tuesday night.
"I was sitting there having a few drinks with my buddies and I didn't need flashes going off," he said.
According to a report, he asked the photographer to leave, then pushed him and threatened him when he didn't.
McMahon, standing before TV cameras and a room full of reporters Wednesday, said: "I don't like this, either, but I have to do this."
Another reluctant subject Wednesday was John Hannah, the Patriots' perennial All-Pro guard.
Hannah is bright--an investment banker in Boston in the off-season--but a very private person who makes reporters work for their quotes.
Like McMahon, Hannah was given a showcase role before a couple of hundred reporters instead of the usual round-table group. He answered questions in a bored, generally humorless monotone.
Will you have an advantage playing against a rookie, William Perry?
Otis Wilson, the Bears' linebacker, said they're going to shut out the Patriots, as they did the Rams and Giants.
"That's his opinion."
Can you beat the Bears without running the football successfully?
"I've seen teams win a lot of games a lot of different ways."
But can you?
By the time someone mercifully said thank you, ending the session, three-fourths of the reporters and Patriot General Manager Patrick Sullivan had walked out.
"He won't have any trouble handling Perry," a reporter said. "He'll put him to sleep."
The interview sessions have had their lighter moments.
Brian Cabral, a Bear linebacker who is on injured reserve, hadn't drawn any reporters to his table, so he took his card off the stand, crossed out his name and wrote "Free Drinks" on the other side.
He soon had some company.
Ditka explained how he came to use Perry--The Refrigerator--as a running back:
"I'd watched him in practice and saw how quick he came off the ball. I thought, 'He'd be pretty tough to tackle for five yards.' I brought it up to the (assistant coaches) and they all laughed, of course, but then we all said, 'What the hell. . . . ' "