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BYU football: Athletic director Tom Holmoe says he wants Jim McMahon's jersey retired

Published: Saturday, July 4 2015 1:24 a.m. MDT

Former Roy High, BYU and NFL football player Jim McMahon has his number retired as he stands with his former Roy High football coaches Ernest Jacklin, Ralph Carter and Orvill Smith during half time at Roy High School in Roy on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011.   (Mike Terry, Deseret News) Former Roy High, BYU and NFL football player Jim McMahon has his number retired as he stands with his former Roy High football coaches Ernest Jacklin, Ralph Carter and Orvill Smith during half time at Roy High School in Roy on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

Former BYU and Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon has accomplished a lot in his life. But one honor he hasn't received is having his jersey number retired at his alma mater.

And if BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe has anything to say about it, that's going to change, hopefully while McMahon is still around to enjoy it.

On Tuesday Holmoe took to Twitter to proclaim his desire for McMahon's number to be retired and for the Super Bowl champion to join the school's Hall of Fame.

A BYU fan responded Tuesday to a tweet from Holmoe expressing excitement about former Y. quarterback Ty Detmer's Hall of Fame induction, which took place during BYU's Homecoming loss to Oregon State. The fan asked if McMahon would be next on the list.

Former BYU and Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon.  (Deseret News Archives) Former BYU and Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon. (Deseret News Archives)

"My work is not done w/o #9 (McMahon's number) hanging from press box at LVES (LaVell Edwards Stadium)," Holmoe responded.

The university has not granted this honor to McMahon in part because he left BYU before completing his degree, leaving him just 10 credit hours short.

McMahon himself, whose Twitter handle was mentioned in Holmoe's comment, responded: "Thx Tommy new I could count on u! Gonna try (and) work on those credits my man …"

McMahon has been in the news lately because of his health. A long career in football, including a history of suffering blows to the head, has left the quarterback with possible early-stage dementia. McMahon appeared in a Sports Illustrated cover story describing his symptoms and their possible causes.

Jim McMahon with his former coach Lavell Edwards as his number is retired during halftime at Roy High School in Roy on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. (Mike Terry, Deseret News) Jim McMahon with his former coach Lavell Edwards as his number is retired during halftime at Roy High School in Roy on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

Later in September, McMahon told a Chicago television station that, knowing what he knows now about concussions and the toll they take, he'd have chosen to play baseball instead.

McMahon's symptoms are part of a larger concussion crisis facing football at every level, from youth leagues to the NFL.

"A concussion in and of itself is not a serious injury, it does not cause permanent damage, but the problem is with repetitive concussions," University of Utah clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Angela Eastvold told the Deseret News earlier this month. "Even a lighter blow the second time around can cause more severe damage."

Broadcaster and Deseret News columnist Vai Sikahema also recently wrote about McMahon's health, saying it was time for BYU to honor their former player, degree or no degree.

Jim McMahon (Mark A. Phibrick) Jim McMahon (Mark A. Phibrick)

"Given Jimmy Mac's circumstances, I am calling on BYU to reconsider the policy of not allowing non-graduates into the school's hall of fame and induct Mac immediately as well as retire his No. 9 jersey," Sikahema wrote on Sept. 7. "The school should do it this year. Do it while his faculties are still somewhat intact. Do it while he can appreciate the applause and the adoration of the people who watched him play and cheered for him in LaVell Edwards Stadium."

Email: lshumway@desnews.com, Twitter: theshums

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