NEW ORLEANS — In case you were wondering what Bourbon Street Jim McMahon was going to do for an encore when his sore backside-acupuncture story got old:
--He mooned a helicopter flying over the Bears' practice.
"No big deal," McMahon said after first denying the incident had occured. "I was just showing 'em where it hurt."
--He was alleged by a New Orleans TV station to have called the local populace "ignorant" and the local women "sluts." The report resulted in a number of angry phone calls and some bomb threats.
McMahon angrily denied having said such things. He sent word that he'd refuse to meet with the press until the station retracted the story, then met with the press, anyway.
Shortly thereafter, the TV station, WDSU, and the announcer responsible for the report--Buddy Diliberto, a veteran New Orleans sports anchorman known as Buddy D--issued retractions, apologies and declarations that they no longer believed the story, themselves.
Said Bob McRaney, WDSU general manager, in a prepared statement:
" . . . We have no basis to believe the statements about New Orleans, attributed to Mr. McMahon, were ever made."
And Diliberto, in his statement:
" . . . I have no reason to doubt their denials. . . . I wish Jim McMahon and the Bears well in the Super Bowl Sunday, and hope the remainder of the week is devoted to preparations for the game without distractions caused by my comments last night."
To ensure freedom from distractions for the rest of the week, the station suspended Diliberto later in the day.
How did it all happen?
The first man on the "story" was Boomer Rollins, a local disc jockey on radio station WEZB, who didn't use it on his own music show but did pass it on to Diliberto, telling him to check it out, he said.
Diliberto then used it Wednesday night.
Rollins said he'd gotten a series of calls while doing his own show Wednesday, although his isn't a call-in show. He said the first caller said she had heard McMahon make his comments on WLS, a Chicago station that is doing live remotes from Tony's Spaghetti House here.
"Ten more people all called up in an hour," Rollins said. "Every one of them said they heard McMahon say slut.
"Diliberto calls up every night and pre-records a sports program that we air in the morning. When we were through, I asked him, 'Buddy, did you hear about Jim McMahon calling all the women in New Orleans sluts?'
"I didn't see it (the TV program). He never gave me any idea he was going to use it on the air.
"The Bears probably hate my guts. I don't want the Bears to be mad at me. I should have kept my mouth shut. . . . I'm afraid to go to the game. This has been the worst day of my life."
However, members of the WLS crew noted that Boomer, himself, visited their show at Tony's Tuesday, bringing food for them. They thought he was hoping to be invited on the air, but he wasn't.
"How could anyone have heard a WLS broadcast in New Orleans?" WLS general manager Jeff Trumper said from Chicago. "The show was broadcast in Chicago.
"He (Rollins) is trying to put the thing to bed. He's backpedaling.
"We immediately sat down and listened to all the tapes, and nothing like that was even implied. After that, the stories started to change down there."
McMahon said: "I tried to call my wife. She wasn't home. She left me, after this one."
So ended another day on the Jimbo Meets Bourbon Street beat.
Add, uh, alleged derogatory comments in New Orleans:
A small group of women marched on the Bears' hotel in protest, but they seemed to be mostly Patriot fans, out for a lark.
They did engage in a spirited debate with an Adidas representative, who asked hotly how they knew McMahon had said anything. McMahon endorses Adidas equipment.
Within two hours, people were wearing Slut headbands.
Only at the Super Bowl: Members of the stat crew were threatening a strike. They were angry that they'd been denied tickets to the NFL's Friday night party.
Otis! My Man!: Every member of the Bear roster, coaching staff and official party has been asked repeatedly if he'd like to predict a third straight shutout.
None would, except linebacker Otis Wilson, resident dropper of gauntlets, who announced, "I see a big goose egg."
To which he later added:
"I'd say the Rams are a better football team (than the Patriots). Miami is a better team. The Giants are about even."
Oh yeah, the Patriots: Coach Raymond Berry, asked what the Bears had that he expected to be a problem: "That's simple. Their offense, defense and kicking game." . . . Whatever virtues the Patriots have, providing colorful interviews isn't one. Several were late to the first sitdown interview session, so on the second day, they were all asked if they were having trouble handling the media attention. Halfback Tony Collins said: "Coach Berry told us the media was going to be on us every day. It hasn't been so bad at all. Have I enjoyed it? It hasn't been so bad at all." . . . Berry, asked why he'd stayed out of coaching in the three years between his firing as a Patriot assistant and his hiring as head coach: "Aw, that's a personal matter. I don't like to talk about it."