The fighter: Former BYU, NFL quarterback Jim McMahon aims to win the toughest challenge of his life
"Hopefully, if they see a guy like Jim come out and admit that he's struggling with something like this, then hopefully it will help heighten people's awareness and it will encourage other athletes to come forward and get some help as well. And it has forced the NFL and college football to make positive changes in the way concussions are dealt with."
Meanwhile, McMahon is working toward getting those final few credit hours he needs to earn his diploma from BYU, which would then allow him to have his rightful place in the school's athletic hall of fame.
"I've got two classes to go," he said, saying that when he was in school he was "smart enough to get somebody else to do my homework."
"I was gonna enroll in this math class this fall, but they told me to wait because I might qualify for special-ed math now. I might be able to pass that class — I hope — and then I'll have one other class to do, whatever I want. I'm hoping this winter I can take whatever classes I need and I should be done by next fall, hopefully."
Of the hall of fame quest, McMahon said he's "trying to do it for my dad," his 77-year-old father, Jim Sr., who lives in Mesquite, Nev., and golfs almost every day. "They're the first group off every day, at the crack of dawn."
Though he loves to golf, too, McMahon said he's not about to start playing at that time of day any time soon. "Nothing works (physically) that early in the morning," he said.
McMahon said he doesn't follow football that closely anymore, other than how some of his former teammates who are now coaching are doing.
"I check some scores here and there, see how my friends are doing," he said. "Andy Reid was my tackle at BYU and now he's doing a hell of a job in K.C. Mike Singletary and Leslie Frazier are up in Minnesota coaching; Ron Rivera is in Carolina; and Jack Del Rio (an assistant with the Broncos), they're talking about him being the new USC coach.
"That's about it — I just check up on my friends."
As for McMahon himself, he never had any desire to coach.
"That's a thankless job, those coaches," he said. "The game ain't that hard. If you've got good players, you've got a good chance."
Though McMahon has always had a well-deserved reputation as a bit of a rebellious rogue, Navon says there's a wonderful, warm and giving side to the man that people haven't always gotten to see or appreciate until recently.
"He has let people see his great, human side," she said. "He's someone everybody can relate to, not a jock, a real person who has issues like everybody else. He's no different.
"You know what? There's a very soft, sensitive, warm, loving side to him. He's so giving of his time and himself, and he does so much for charity, so many different charities. He's really very humble. He's as good as gold."
And just because he's been sacked by a devastating opponent commonly called concussion syndrome, the one-time spunky, punky QB certainly is going to do all he can to win this difficult battle — and, hopefully, help others win it, too.
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