Jim McMahon is best known as the starting quarterback of the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears, and one of the great characters in NFL history. He played 11 seasons after that championship run, playing for another five franchises. He never appeared in a game for Bill Belichick‘s Cleveland Browns late in his career, but to hear him tell it, Belichick and former Browns executive Michael Lombardi gave him a serious run-around that he still doesn’t seem totally over.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard the Bears great trash Belichick, who many regard as the greatest coach of all time. In 2015, after the Deflategate scandal, McMahon told The Dan Patrick Show “I know he’s a liar, so cheating ain’t far behind, I don’t think.”
As McMahon tells it, he was promised a spot on the 1995 Cleveland Browns by Belichick, but the team was waiting to free up a roster spot. To ensure that McMahon would stay available, he says Belichick told to move to Cleveland, and the team would pay him on the side in the meantime (which, as ProFootballTalk points out, definitely wasn’t and isn’t legal for a team to do).
He went into more detail on why he hates Bill Belichick and calls him a liar during an appearance on 850 ESPN Cleveland. The story, as transcribed by PFT, is pretty wild, and involved McMahon throwing Lombardi’s “head against the wall” and “hitting him” after demanding his money.
To cap their limited time together in Cleveland during the 1995 season, Jim McMahon described Bill Belichick as a "lying piece of 💩." https://t.co/huJqXfvdLK
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 19, 2021
Jim McMahon said that after training camp, he was promised a spot a few weeks into the season. It wound up taking almost half of the year for him to land on the roster, and the team did not pay him, as promised, for the weeks he wasn’t on the roster.
“After training camp [Belichick] called me in and says, ‘Hey we’re gonna have to release you. We’ve got a lot of guys hurt. We need some roster spots,’” McMahon said on 850 ESPN Cleveland. “Then he said, ‘Hey no. But we really want you, we need you here.’ I said what are you telling me, Bill? He goes, ‘I want you to move here.’ If I’m gonna be here. I move my family here. They’re gonna be here for six months with me. I gotta find a hockey team for my sons. They were big into hockey at the time. So don’t screw me around. And he said ‘We’re gonna take care of you. . . . We’ll pay you to sit out.’
“I dressed three games — the eight, nine and ten weeks — and I got those checks. I confronted the G.M. at the time, what the hell was his name, Lombardi? He’s coming down the hallway and I said, ‘Hey man, I need my money. My wife was just in a wreck and I don’t want to deal with insurance.’ He looks at me and says, ‘Well, maybe we’ll pay you, maybe we won’t.’ And I lost it. I just snapped. I grabbed him by the neck and threw his head against the wall and said, ‘You’re gonna pay me my money.” Then I started realizing what I was doing and I’m looking around the hallway to see if there were any cameras. I stopped hitting him and he slid down the wall.”
From there, Jim McMahon says called his agent, asking him to get the Browns to release him. He got his wish, and when asked by the Browns’ quarterbacks coach if he had talked to Bill Belichick before announcing his abrupt departure, McMahon recalls telling him “You can tell Bill to kiss my ass. He’s a lying piece of s**t.”
McMahon would sign with the Green Bay Packers that year, appearing in one game as the backup to Brett Favre. He remained with the team in 1996, earning a Super Bowl ring with the team.