Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, suffering from a bruised lower back and buttock, received treatment from a Japanese acupuncturist today but said he was certain to play against New England in Super Bowl XX Sunday.
"There's no chance of me missing this game. I missed a couple of games this year, just so I could be ready for this game," said McMahon.
"[But] right now, I can't drop back," he said.
Coach Mike Ditka of the Bears said pointedly, "Jim is hurting right now. He is not well. This is not a put-on. It's just a fact."
McMahon was treated by acupuncturist Hiroshi Shiriashi in Chicago on Monday, and he said he planned to receive two treatments per day. McMahon did not specify for how many days this treatment will last.
Acupuncture is an ancient practice in which parts of the body are pierced with needles to treat disease or to relieve pain.
McMahon has participated in team practices on a limited basis this week, confining his work mostly to passing drills.
When a reporter asked Patriots Coach Raymond Berry early today if he expected McMahon to miss Sunday's game, Berry smiled and said sarcastically, "Is there some hope?"
But McMahon and Ditka were entirely serious about McMahon's injury, which was incurred in the conference title game Jan. 12. After McMahon scrambled from pass rushers, he slid to the turf, and a Los Angeles Rams defender hit him in his buttock.
"I slid down feet first, and you're not supposed to get hit after you do that," McMahon said. "They have all of these rules in the game, but [referees] don't call them. Then the league fines me $5,000 for wearing a headband. I don't know what's going on."
McMahon, who said he received helpful acupuncture treatments while he attended Brigham Young University, said he would continue to receive heat rubdowns and whirlpool treatments under the supervision of team trainer Fred Caito.
Still, McMahon added, "There is only so much you can do as a trainer. That takes time. We don't have time. It's got to be done now. The first [acupuncture] treatment has helped me."
Reserve Steve Fuller started in place of McMahon five times this season, and the Bears (17-1) won four of those games.
"I don't think I'll have to make a decision on McMahon up until game time," Ditka said. He expressed optimism that McMahon will be ready to start.
"There's a possibility his [recovery] won't work out," Ditka said. "We could go with our other quarterback [Fuller], and I'm sure he would do fine."
Ditka said that Shiriashi is a friend of Bears receiver Willie Gault and that he "has treated a lot of track people. He has treated Walter [Payton, the Bears running back], too."
Reports indicated that Gault induced Shiriashi to fly to this country from Japan recently to help treat several of the Bears.
Chicago president Michael McCaskey told reporters he would not stand in the way of Shiriashi's treatment of McMahon this week. Shiriashi's flight to New Orleans was financed by the Illinois State Acupuncturist Association, according to reports.
Ever the individualist, McMahon wore red, white and blue tights and polka-dot sunglasses to today's news conference. He said, "The closer you get to game time, the adrenaline starts pumping, so a lot of the pain will go away. I'll probably get some Novocain before the game, too."
Meanwhile, Patriots reserve quarterback Steve Grogan said he wants to participate in at least one play in this Super Bowl, perhaps even on the special teams.
Now in his 11th season with New England, Grogan said, "Twenty-five years from now when I tell my grandchildren I played in Super Bowl XX and when they ask 'What did you do?' I don't want to say, 'I stood on the sidelines.' You could do that just by buying a ticket.
"I've waited too long for this."
Grogan replaced starter Tony Eason in the fifth game of the regular season, after Eason suffered a separated left shoulder, and led the Patriots to six consecutive victories. Grogan suffered a knee injury, though, in the 12th week of the season when New York Jets defensive end Ben Rudolph accidentally fell on the quarterback's leg.
Grogan hasn't played since. He said his knee is "not quite 100 percent, but it's well enough to play.
"I'd like to do something," said Grogan, 32, "whether it's trying to block an extra point or running down field on kickoffs."
Dante Scarnecchia, the Patriots' special teams coach, shook his head when asked if Grogan might make a cameo appearance on any of his special teams.
Then Scarnecchia said, "You have got to ask the head coach about this. If he says okay, then maybe I'll do it."
Grogan knows Scarnecchia's feelings on this matter. Perhaps that's why he wore a sly grin when he said, "My best chance to play (on special teams) is to run somebody off the field before he sees it."