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McMahon Has Gone to the Market

September 21, 1986|Associated Press

CHICAGO — Jim McMahon, the punky Bear quarterback with the funky shades, is being paid handsomely these days as a pitchman.

McMahon earned about $2 million this year as a product spokesman for scooters, sunglasses, soft drinks and tacos, his agent Stephen Zucker said.

"Jim McMahon has a reputation as saying what's on his mind and not mincing words, so he's not phony in any way. When he says 'I use a Honda,' people believe it," said Zucker, a former Chicago criminal lawyer who represents McMahon and several other NFL players.

McMahon's main appeal, the agent said, is to "people who work for a living."

"Younger people really look up to Jim. He reflects more the thinking of the man on the street than the man in the front office," he said.

Zucker said he didn't know if any other athlete was ahead of McMahon in offers, including last year's top sports salesman, teammate William (The Refrigerator) Perry.

"Perry may have been ahead in November, but since the Super Bowl, Jim is the most sought-after athlete in the country," said Zucker, who counts himself among McMahon's closest friends.

Conrad Ford, Perry's business manager, said it was hard to say which Bear was more in demand since he doesn't know the details of McMahon's deals.

Zucker said McMahon "turns down almost everything that comes his way. He'll take two percent of what's offered."

That 2 percent includes endorsements for Honda motor scooters, Adidas sportswear, and contracts to wear Revo sunglasses and Bell watches exclusively. McMahon also did a commercial with Perry for Coca-Cola.

"Maybe he couldn't do the Cadillac commercials, like (teammate Gary) Fencik is doing, but Honda is perfect for him. He drives one," Zucker said.

McMahon, 27, now commands $20,000 for a one-hour personal appearance, but offers still pour in from shopping centers, unions, even the community of Kokomo, Ind., his agent said.

After the Super Bowl, McMahon turned down offers to appear in movies and television shows like "Saturday Night Live," "Friday Night Videos," and "The Equalizer," and to portray a drug dealer on "Miami Vice," Zucker said.

"He thought it would be bad for the image of the NFL," the agent said.

McMahon has filmed an instructional video for budding quarterbacks and is negotiating to do a Jane Fonda-type video, featuring Bears' offensive linemen in an exercise program for developing power and endurance.

There is also a McMahon poster: a futuristic number called "Mad Mac, The Grid Warrior."

And a McMahon autobiography: "McMahon!" was serialized in the Chicago Sun-Times and is prominently displayed in bookstores.

He also has a daily radio call-in show in Chicago during the season.

"We sat down and he said, 'I'm a football player,' " Zucker said. "He doesn't want to get involved doing too much of this."

McMahon did some charity work during the Super Bowl, when he wore a headband that said "JDF Cure" for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Chicago Metropolitan chapter.

Sharon Queen Reddy, the chapter's administrative director, said the Super Bowl appearance generated $100,000 for the foundation in sales of $20 headbands.

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